Read Stella Bain by Anita Shreve Online


An epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from bestselling author Anita Shreve.When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in hisAn epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from bestselling author Anita Shreve.When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation....

Title : Stella Bain
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316098861
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Stella Bain Reviews

  • Nancy
    2019-01-25 13:17

    Seriously, am I the only person who gets what Anita Shreve did here?! I said it before (when I read the last page of The Last Time They Met, which I loved) and I'll say it again...ANITA SHREVE IS A GENIUS! If you are like me and are a huge fan of Anita Shreve and have read all of her books, you should be able to figure this out. If you are new to Anita Shreve, this book is just as enjoyable, but on a different level.If you haven't read this book yet, STOP HERE - there are some small spoilers!Early on in the book, I had a feeling of literary deja vu - a few words ("one room cottage") a man's name (Van Tassel) all sounded so familiar to me me. I kept thinking how much this book reminded me of another of Anita Shreve's books. One third of the way through the book I had a huge AH-HA! moment and then I couldn't put the book down...and now I am officially obsessed with this book!And for those who think the book ended abruptly, there's a clue at the end of this book about what happens to Stella...and as soon as I finished this book I pulled out AHEW and re-read the last chapter. As I said before...GENIUS!

  • Samantha
    2019-02-15 09:40

    I was excited to get this book, stories about WWI being more difficult to come by than those about WWII. However, this novel is not really about the war. Stella, who is not sure that Stella really is her name, wakes up in a French army hospital and is not quite sure how she got there. I assumed that she suffered from a concussion, though it's later referred to as shell shock. When someone mentions the Admiralty in London, she becomes obsessed with traveling there, sure that it holds the answers to her forgotten past.This first portion of the book is told in an odd first person present tense style that I believe is meant to put the reader inside Stella's head where all she is certain of is this moment. I found it choppy and distracting. Once Stella is in London, she meets the angelic Lily Bridge and her husband August, who decides that he would like to try help Stella retrieve her memory and personality from wherever it has become buried. The style of writing slowly changes to more common past tense, which was a relief.The story was slow getting to this point and I thought the pace would pick up once Stella experienced her 'aha moment' but it didn't. Instead, we move into a strange disjointed stretch of the storytelling with letters to and from Stella and her visits with remembered family. The reader also observes Stella's thoughts of those she has left behind in Europe.Finally, the last portion of the book is taken up with a mundane custody hearing that I thought was covered in far too much detail for no real purpose. Without giving away too much, I will just say that the final plot twists and romances left a lot to be desired.Overall, I found this story rather bland, disconnected, and with little substance that made me feel any emotion for or connection with the characters.I received this book through a Goodreads Firstread Giveaway. The opinions expressed are my own.

  • Susan
    2019-01-25 08:14

    I have read and enjoyed all of Anita Shreve's book. I devour them quickly and wait patiently for the next one. Each is different. They are always engaging and well-written. Stella Bain is no exception. The background story of serving as a nurse in the field hospitals of the First World War provides a fascinating context for Stella's story of misery, guilt, loss, terror, and amnesia. Her recovery of her memory is handled well, with suspense and interesting gradations of revelation. The courtroom scenes detailing the child custody fight are also well done. But when she returns to London to find Dr. Bridge and Phillip, everything moved too fast. I felt the last chapters were truncated. I wanted to read about her experiences with the shell shock expert and the revelations that might have come about concerning that condition. I wanted her romance with Dr. Bridge to be more gradual, even though I knew it was coming, and her visits with Phillip and his revelations to be extended more in time and detail as well. So it was a good novel and I liked it very much, but the ending was too hurried to wrap everything up neatly and quickly.

  • Deborah Ideiosepius
    2019-01-18 15:29

    While this was not a bad book, nor unenjoyable for a quick read I really can’t bring myself to rate it above two stars:The early chapters based in WWI French front were very interesting, the descriptions of the conditions were deft and vivid and I enjoyed this part thoroughly. The main character, made intriguing by her amnesia and the ‘shell shock’ made for an interesting focus to view the situation from, and in general I found it a pretty good story. In retrospect I think that even at this early stage I could have done with more detail about the war and fleshing out of the historical context, however it was still interesting reading even if it was a bit ‘WWI-Lite’. The slightly later chapters which dealt in more detail with Stella's amnesia, the condition then known as shell shock, and the ‘new treatment’ were also interesting. I enjoyed the use of her drawing and artwork throughout the story, but in this section it was particularly effective as the bulk of this part of the book revolves around the subjective experiences of the main character. More details of the era and the situation would have been nice, but I was still quite enjoying the story even if it was a placid rather than the thrilling one it could have been if the war had featured more strongly.The latter part of the book when ‘Stella Bain’s’ memory comes back and we transition to America was... well, I can only say that I found it exceptionally tedious. (view spoiler)[ She remembers she has kids and an abusive husband. After that it is all about the kids and how devoted to them she is and her struggle to get them back. I found this section bland and forgettable, the narrative seemed emotionally detached for the subject matter (how on earth do you make sexual assault seem so very banal?). The descriptions of her children and her efforts to reintegrate into their lives were forgettable in the extreme. The trial was briefly interesting and then the whole thing was back to blandness.I also found the superficial dealing with Lily Bridge early on as a deplorably predictable sign that she was going to die and leave the road clear in the most morally unprovocative way, for the only two characters that got fully developed in the entire novel: 'Stella' and August. Due to this, I found the romance section, predictable and crammed in to the last chapters as it was, both unconvincing and disappointing in every way. (hide spoiler)]The ending is a 'happy ending' with a dash of sweet (or is it saccharine I mean?) vanilla romance, but rather than the pleasant satisfaction one should get from putting down a happy ending book, I was left with a faint sensation of 'glad to be finished'.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-01-30 14:28

    3.5 When she is found in a hospital camp in France without a memory she gives the nurses the name "Stella Bain. The Great War, 1916, camps in France and England, the horror of war and its effects on the psyches of those involved and a woman with a past that she must uncover. Though it will take a while, she will and this will lead to a court case and a new life, while making peace with her old.This is when shell shock was first being talked about and studied, the talking cure proposed by Freud was beginning to be used in the treatment of this condition .What makes this book so different is that it recognizes the effects of shell shock on the nurses and the others in the camps who also saw horrible things and had to live with what they had seen. A woman had few choices in this time period and remembering that it is easy to understand some of the decisions she made in her life. The court case I am not sure about, not sure if a judge would have been as fair to a woman as this one was, but it might have helped that her husband was not at all a sympathetic person, thinking he was above even the dictates of the court.A hopeful book about the rebuilding of a life, Shreve treats her characters with a tenderness and a gentleness and brings them to life. I think she must have liked her character Stella Bain quite a bit. I did too.ARC from NetGalley.

  • Heather K Veitch
    2019-02-16 15:17

    I am a huge Anita Shreve fan and have read everything she's previously written; therefore I was waiting for this novel with some anticipation. I was a little worried because of its initial setting in WWI, as I don't like war novels, but I need not have worried; this section of the book is short and the whole story is mainly concerned with discovering the events that lead Stella to wartime France in the first place, and the fallout of what happens there, once she has lost her memory and strives to recover it.WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD -- I was pleasantly surprised (though I had a few suspicions) to find that Stella is actually a character from a previous Shreve novel ("All He Ever Wanted"). This was intriguing to me as I had not enjoyed "All He Ever Wanted" on my first read of it, but will now probably go back and re-read it now I know more of what happens to this character and her story. It was, in my mind, all very nicely done and, as I say, has inspired me to return to this first book at some point soon. Also neatly done was the nod to the location of the beach cottages which have featured in so many of Shreve's previous novels (e.g. "Bodysurfing", "Fortune's Rocks", "The Pilot's Wife" and "Sea Glass"). As always, Shreve's writing style is sparse but filled with meaning; she has a delicate yet deep touch on human emotion and the reasons people act/react the way they do. Despite the fact that actual wartime scenes are limited within the novel, the events of WWI give a haunting melancholy beneath the actions and dialogue, which permeates the entire novel. The characters themselves are likeable and I found myself drawn into the intrigue surrounding Stella's memory loss, and also -- upon rediscovering her identity -- her journey from where we first meet her in "All He Ever Wanted" through to this point where we pick up her story again in "The Lives of Stella Bain". Everything is framed through Stella's experiences, which initially can seem shallow or disjointed due to the fact that she effectively has no history, no framework or context to apply to her situation. In some ways this makes her experiences of war even more harrowing. I surprised myself with how quickly I read this book and I did enjoy it more than I thought I would. I certainly enjoyed it more than (say) "All He Ever Wanted" or "A Change in Altitude", but not as much as "Bodysurfing" or "The Last Time They Met", which are my favourites.Roll on more Anita Shreve -- I can't wait for the next one.

  • Cloda
    2019-02-17 14:37

    This book reminded me so much of one of my favorite books by this author, All He Ever Wanted. In fact, it made me want to reread it one more time. So I went into my book archives to retrieve All He Ever Wanted only to discover that this is the wife's version of this story. It has been years and years since I read the first book, and now I get it. I understand now how readers who didn't know of the first book would be disappointed with this as a stand alone. I wanted to love Stella more, or rather Etna. But she doesn't quite get me to warm up to her. I admire the strength of her character, and appreciate her more questionable choices but I didn't fall in love with this book like the prequel. Yet and still ...This book delves into a journey of a time period without cell phones and Skype. Importantly, it touches upon the significance of Freudian therapy and the emergence of talk therapy. Additionally, it gives the reader insight into hysteria versus shell shock and how words and labels can harm or heal. I wanted more back story to Stella's marriage and more conclusion at the end. In All He Ever Wanted, I felt like I was inside that sick man's head. This was not the same. Yet, it gets four stars because I really wanted this explanation for so long, and I got two thirds of all I ever wanted. :)

  • Amy Warrick
    2019-01-20 15:34

    Here's the thing: unlike many readers, I loved 'The Last Time They Met' and keep reading Anita Shreve's books because of it. So unlike many readers, I keep getting disappointed. Her books are never bad, but they aren't... great. This one is no exception. It's the tale of a WWI nurse, although we meet her while she's an amnesiac so the first bit of the book is involved in unravelling her story. Then we get on with her life. It's never terribly compelling or vibrant, just a story well-told, without, oh, I don't know, a lot of life to it.

  • Carol
    2019-02-06 11:24

    This book lacked plausibility in several ways for me, and did not measure up to past reads by Anita Shreve. The premise seemed to have great potential, but it didn't come together as I had hoped. I would not be able to recommend it and I have enjoyed most of this author's books in one way or another.

  • Whitney
    2019-02-14 14:42

    I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads Program. I was interested in this book because it was about a woman serving as a nurse in World War I, that ends up loosing her memory from shell shock. I was excited to read about a woman experiencing this. I was disappointed in this book. The book was more about her family issues than it was about her service. It still highlighted issues women faced at the time, but it wasn't what I was expecting to read about.I had a hard time engaging with the story. It lacked depth and plausibility. There were also quite a few errors that will hopefully be taken care of in the final draft of the book. I note this because it interrupted the flow of the book.I would recommend finding a different book about women serving in World War I if that is what you are interested in. It was a good idea for a book, but this one didn't satisfy me.

  • ☮Karen
    2019-02-17 11:18

    Anita Shreve is a favorite of mine in how she handles historical fiction. Here, though, I was disappointed -- not in the historical theme, but in the presentation. We have an unhappily married American woman with children who ends up as a nurse's aide / ambulance driver in WWI France. You see she's fled from her sorry excuse of a husband, which unfortunately means she has also abandoned her children, and that's going to come back to haunt her in a big way. She gets amnesia following a trauma and thinks her name is Stella Bain, but I haven't the slightest idea why or if that had any significance, as it was explained away a bit too quickly. I thought that was poorly handled, and also the courtroom scenes simply dragged on and on and on, made all the worse by the terrible narration during these parts. The female reader made the judge and the lawyers sound like carricatures of their snobbish selves, which I'm sure wasn't the author's intention. Or was it? The ending was very neat and tidy, nothing here to make one sigh and say "Wow." I am not wowed.

  • Stephanie
    2019-01-24 12:32

    I have been reading Anita's books for years and am always struck how they have a simplicity to them that is remarkable and yet sums up a conflicted situation in a most powerful way..Memories of her previous books, Sea Glass and The Weight of Water and Fortune's Rocks filled me as I quickly read her newest book...Her theme of women desperately wanting a life of their own, work and creativity of their own without judgement or prejudice continues with this story of a remarkable women who suffers amnesia during World War 1...She introduces the reader to shell shock, the precurser to what is now know an Post Traumatic Stress Disorder..The disorder became well known during that time as soldiers suffered symptoms that had never been observed or paid attention to in detail..This was happening at a time when the new field of psychiatry was emerging and doctors were being trained in the new medical discipline....What I found fascinating as a retired mental health therapist is her introducing the idea of that time that "shell shock" is not reserved for male veterans only...People were just starting to understand that women could be affected by PTSD and that it wasnt "hysteria" that made them suffer the same symptoms as their male peers..Nor was it necessarily combat that induced "shell shock" for millions of traumatized women worldwide....And the idea that multiple traumas could induce memory loss was a groundbreaking concept then....The implications of this were mind boggling for the time as the reader becomes aware of the limitations people struggled with in a sexist world that held double standards of competence and health for men and women...She reminds us how far we have come regarding understanding mental health and sexism but also hints how far we still need to go...When I finished, I was reminded again of why I enjoy Shreve's books and how they make me think of the contextual, historical significance of common problems we still struggle with today.

  • Erin
    2019-01-22 08:23

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....I'm not altogether sure how to describe Anita Shreve's Stella Bain. The book touches on some absolutely fascinating subject matter, but I think the telling leaves something to be desired. Though not as powerful as Peter Yeldham's Barbed Wire and Roses, I appreciated Shreve's exploration of shell shock and how she uses Stella to show both the impact it has on the individual and how it was viewed in a society with little to no understanding of the condition. Her presentation pulls at the heartstrings while offering a really nice portrait of the values of this particular era. Unfortunately, I don't think every aspect of this book was as well thought out.I understand the decision to write this piece in the present tense. Stella is frustrated and confused at not being able to assemble the pieces of her own history and the reader get a very real sense of her dismay seeing the world as she herself does, accepting each moment without a greater sense or understanding of where her story began or where it is going. But that being said, I think this approach creates more empathy for her situation than her character and makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to truly understand the woman Stella is. My other concern regards the custody battle. I think it is great material and that it showcases an interesting contrast when compared to our contemporary family court system, but I think this sequence strayed too far from the themes Shreve explores in the rest of her narrative. Again, great content, but it wasn't as fluid as the rest of the novel and sticks out as being something of an add-on to the greater story.An emotionally driven fiction of life on the home front. A subtle narrative sure to be appreciated by those who enjoy less confrontational war stories.

  • Sandy
    2019-02-11 11:21

    I received an ARC copy of this book from I stopped reading Anita Shreve's books a long time ago and now realize why. Although I thought the premise about a woman suffering from amensia during WWI sounded interesting, in typical Shreve fashion, it dissolved into a dysfunctional marriage. I also thought the book was very disjointed. I needed to reminded myself in the future not read any more of her books.

  • Desiree
    2019-01-18 10:26

    To be completely fair, this was closer to a 2.5 than a true 2 rating. The book had a lot of potential but fell short. It seemed like the author was trying to make the book as short as possible. The ending also seemed rushed and wrapped up too nicely. The last Anita Shreve book I read, I swore would be the last but this time I really mean it.

  • Connie
    2019-01-23 12:30

    3.5 starsWhen a young woman regains consciousness in a French battlefield hospital in 1916, she cannot remember her name or past life. Although she is dressed in a British nurse's aide uniform, she has an American accent. She takes the name Stella Bain, although it doesn't feel quite right to her. When she recovers from her wounds, she is pressed into service by the French nurses who are overwhelmed treating the wounded soldiers. She heads to London on leave in a few months to see if someone at the Admiralty can help her recover her past identity. While Stella is wandering lost in London, a sympathetic woman, Lily Bridge, takes her in. Lily's husband is a cranial surgeon who also has an interest in psychiatry and "shell-shocked" patients. With his help, Stella starts to piece together the puzzle of her past life.The first half of the book, set in France and London, was especially interesting. It showed how women served in World War I. Psychoanalysis was a new field at that time, and it was being used in England to treat soldiers who were "shell-shocked" (called PTSD today). Stella recovers her memory, layer by layer, aided by drawing scenes of things she faintly remembers. The reasons she left her home and traveled to Europe are revealed. Some of her decisions were a bit surprising, especially for that time, but Stella was a very independent woman.Although Stella Bain is a stand-alone novel, Anita Shreve wrote an earlier book, All He Ever Wanted, which told the story of their early relationship from Stella's husband's point of view. Anita Shreve also likes to use the same house or same geographical regions in her books, and the coast of New Hampshire shows up again at the conclusion of Stella Bain.

  • Debbie Robson
    2019-02-17 07:25

    When this book came out three years ago I was in the middle of writing a WWI manuscript about a young Australian woman, who in 1920, can’t remember the last two years of her life. I thought, okay, I’d better not read this. Too dangerous, particularly a book by a writer that I admire. I also avoided Birdsong for the same reason.Now writing the first draft of a completely different book I thought it was time to read this one and I’m glad I did, even though I’m a bit ambivalent. Why am I ambivalent? That’s a good question. I think it’s because, in a way, Stella Bain is two books in one.“It is 1916, and a woman awakens, in a field hospital in northern France. She wears the uniform of a British nurse’s aide but has an American accent. With no memory of her past or what brought her to this distant war, she knows only that she can drive an ambulance, and that her name is Stella Bain.”As always Shreve’s descriptions are very effective and where they need to be, historically accurate. “When the patient arrived, his lower jaw was badly infected, and I could see that to save the man, the reconstruction would have to be cut away, the infected area abraded, and a recovery period endured before we could implant a better device for him.”The novel progresses as you would expect but, for this reader, it seems to take a sharp turn in the narrative half way through when Stella abruptly leaves for America. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book, I just felt somehow that the two parts didn’t quite sit together. I’m interested to see what another reader thinks.

  • Mirella
    2019-01-19 14:39

    In the novel, Stella Bain, author Anita Shreve takes us back into the turbulence of World War I, the declining Edwardian era, and the gender restrictions imposed on women. This absorbing story is about a young woman who worked as an ambulance driver in France. She is discovered shell-shocked and suffering from amnesia; all she can tell anyone is that her name is Stella Bain. But is it? Day by day, as Stella begins to heal, tiny recollections of memories, of locations, of names, flash into her mind. Determined to answer the questions of her past, she is compelled to unravel the secrets of her past, who she really is, and where she came from. What follows is a compelling, engrossing mystery.The novel embraces strong topics such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, especially as it affected women at the time, the rights of women and societal expectations and norms, while delivering a poignant love story of pain and loss and healing. Anita Shreve excels at drilling down deep into the human spirit, of unleashing great emotion, and all while telling a riveting story. This is very much a character driven novel, but it also has a touching mystery at its roots that definitely keeps the reader turning the pages. I highly recommend this novel for anyone wishing to cozy up to a deep, insightful story of ultimate triumph.

  • Cathy Branciforte
    2019-02-03 11:23

    Anita Shreve was once my favorite author, but her last few books were big disappointments for me. I was really looking forward to Stella Bain because of the subject and time period. It was pretty good; I would give it 3 1/2 stars.It is a small book and quick read. I enjoyed the story very much, and was drawn in right from the start. was just pretty good, not great. One of my favorite books of all-time is Fortune's Rocks- now THAT was great. I sometimes think that writers only have a limited amount of good books in them to write and that it is hard to keep writing consistently good books.

  • Célia Loureiro
    2019-02-06 07:37

    Não há um livro da Anita Shreve que não me cative. Tudo porque a escritora tem um jeito despretensioso de apresentar as situações, e é exímia em descrever as cicatrizes que ficam na alma após um trauma.No início do livro estava intrigada quanto a Stella Bain, a desmemoriada. Mas a autora, que é do género que permite ao leitor formar a sua própria ideia das personagens, não a descreveu fisicamente, nem sequer a pôs a ponderar sobre a sua idade. Na verdade, a primeira parte do livro é um pouco superficial e apressada, sobretudo tendo em conta que a segunda parte, a partir da “revelação”, é tão mais detalhada. Talvez esse vazio seja um relance do interior da mente de Stella, desprovida de quaisquer recordações. A autora, contudo, não quis focar-se demasiado na situação da enfermeira de guerra sem memória, que acaba por ser o chamariz para o livro se nos basearmos apenas na sinopse. Neste âmbito é abordada a terapêutica de Freud, em voga tanto em Inglaterra como na América, e a doente é temporariamente tratada por psicoterapia. O Doutor August Bridge surge nesse contexto, como estudioso de Freud e interessado nos mistérios da Psiquiatria. O mundo ultrapassava horrores jamais vistos e, regressados das trincheiras e da frente, as capitais europeias estavam assoladas de soldados amputados, desfigurados, desmembrados.Acabei por entender esta opção de criar uma primeira parte para o livro mais leve, posto que esse estado é apenas um reflexo do papel de Stella no cenário de guerra que a Europa atravessa, e um eco da sua própria mente confusa e amnésica. É um aparte entre o livro anterior, “Tudo o que Ele Sempre Quis”, que devo ter lido há mais de cinco anos, e o desenrolar da história de Etna Bliss. Só entendi a ligação entre os dois livros quando Stella recupera a memória.A segunda parte do livro, que parece ter aborrecido outros leitores, é a que mais me prendeu. A ligação à sua vida passada, que eu conhecia doutro livro, os seus antigos amores, erros por corrigir e culpas formadas… Há, contudo, fortes ligações a outros livros da autora. É normal, já li várias obras suas e começo a detectar aquilo que a move e intriga. O mundo académico e a Medicina estão sempre muito presentes, bem como a forte amizade entre mulheres e homens, mesmo em épocas em que isso não era bem visto. Por fim, as sequências sobre um julgamento em tribunal pela guarda de um menor recordou-me muito o “A Praia do Destino”, que é o meu livro favorito dela.Acho a Anita Shreve uma criativa de grande humanidade, sensível e detentora de uma classe que eu jamais terei. Em parte porque a admiro nela, é-lhe natural e intrínseca. Em parte porque a sua crueza elegante foge um bocadinho ao caos que eu gosto de explorar.Ainda assim, cada nova obra sua é, para mim, um grande momento de leitura.

  • Kelly B
    2019-02-01 15:18

    This book has a great premise that, unfortunately, was poorly executed.A woman wakes up in a French medical camp during the WW I. The woman has completely lost her memory, but believes her name might be Stella Bain. This is the start of Stella's journey to find out who she is.I had several problems with this book. The most notable problem being that there is never a believable reason for why Stella orginally goes overseas. I didn't think the reason for her leaving very plausible. Besides that, Stella has conveniently good luck considering the circumstances. Would a doctor and his wife really take in a strange woman and allow her to live in their home for weeks at a time? I doubt it. Then, later in the book the reader is subjected to almost constant praise for Stella. I didn't see what was so remarkable about her, but apparently most of the characters in the book thought she was impressive. There's a part where Stella mentions a character that's obsessed over her, and that was the topping on the "Stella annoys me" cake;-).

  • Julia
    2019-01-27 12:29

    I always put a new Anita Shreve book ahead in my line up of books to read. However, I don't think this one was worth putting ahead. I did not like Shreve's writing style - it seemed to lack depth and the writing seemed so very simplistic. The story line itself was interesting enough and was what kept me reading. It deals with a loveless marriage, a wife leaving her family in fear of her husband, joining the war efforts in France as a nurse, suffering shell shock and losing her memory, and so on. It was a quick read and perhaps I felt cheated that I didn't really get to know the characters very well and the events just moved quickly, covering time without allowing me to get involved in the scene. Maybe I am being too critical, but I really didn't think this book cAme close to being her best work.

  • Kristin
    2019-01-22 10:34

    3.5 stars. I always enjoy Anita Shreve. This was a super fast enjoyable read but not one with much substance. Set in WWI the book opens up with Stella Bain and her story of being an ambulance driver in France. There is so much more to her - for one, it isn't her real name and she has amnesia and wakes up with injuries to her legs in a makeshift hospital tent. She hears someone mention the Admiralty House in London and has an urge to go there but has no idea why. She meets August & Lily and her story goes from there as they try and help her regain her memory and her life in America. An abusive relationship, lost love, repairing relationships with her children are all a part of the book. Very fast read.

  • Kindling Micky
    2019-02-15 15:23

    DNF @ 30% audio.

  • LG
    2019-01-31 12:21

    I really like Stella Bain. I like her for all the reasons everyone likes her: she is alluring, artistic, helpful, quick-thinking, brave. She’s a survivor with a dark past, a mystery woman who’s not just a pretty face – although, in her traumatized state, she can’t bring herself to draw a self-portrait. All the more reason to be intrigued. As Stella’s first life unfolds during the Great War, Shreve narrates her story in a well-paced, pitch-perfect way, all sensory impressions and intense moments; the telling of the story reflects the perfection that is Stella Bain. Sure, it’s choppy and episodic, but this evokes the thought fragments of a woman who can’t remember who she is. And sure, Lily Bridge, the woman who takes her in and arranges for her medical treatment, is inexplicably written off as soon as she’s written into the story, but – no matter; it’s Stella we’re interested in, and hers is a gripping story.Stella’s second life starts when she is jolted back into her identity. This is where a knowledge of one of Shreve’s previous books will be rewarding, if you have any memory of it. If not, or if you haven’t read it – no harm done. (view spoiler)[That prequel is her husband’s side of the story. Narrated by that equally fascinating character, who makes an appearance here, it was a compelling read because he’s so revolting, and yet it was fun to get inside his despicable little head. (hide spoiler)] What we discover about the woman who called herself Stella Bain will keep you fully engaged as her story is rewound and played forward again, looping back to where we first met her. You probably won’t mind that part of this section is narrated as a series of letters between her and Dr. Bridge, who helped her recover her memory. (view spoiler)[This is when we discover Lily dies. Now, if you’ve figured out why she had to be in this book at all, please write me a comment. And don’t say it’s because Sebastian has to be born; Sebastian could have entered this world some other way. (hide spoiler)] You might even forgive the fact that the next section is in the form of a courtroom drama. That’s where you and I will part ways.Because, by the third act, I was getting a courtroom transcript when all I really wanted was to get inside the head of the real Stella – the one who ran from her past, ran from the horrors of the Western Front, ran until she forgot why, and then fought to remember, fought to regain, fought her way back into Nicky’s heart. (view spoiler)[The way that’s told in this section, all it took was an afternoon, some ice cream, and a hug. No trauma for Nicky. And what about Clara, a teenage girl sent to live hundreds of miles away from her broken family? Where are the scenes of mother and child gluing back the pieces of their broken bond? I mean, there were many tender moments with Dr. Bridge and with Phillip Asher. But as with Nicky, with Clara there is only one. Then it’s back to the courthouse. (hide spoiler)] I understand that “Stella” still can’t explain why she did what she did, but I can’t see why she doesn’t confide any thoughts in us at all. What we discover about her we learn from character references and letters (so many letters!) instead of her own actions and thoughts. The effect is, she remains distant, like the woman walking away from us on the cover of the book. Even the villain of the piece, who’s also the villain of the interlinked previous book, gains yet more depth in their final scene together.Stella Bain had my interest and admiration, but after she remembered who she was, she didn’t seem to need my sympathy because she pretty much got all she ever wanted, later if not sooner. She had endured her worst in France, during the first of her multiple lives. When she made her final decision in London, I felt strangely irritated. (view spoiler)[She had told us only a few pages earlier that she needed closure with Phillip, and now here she was professing true love for August. It’s not that I didn’t see their mutual attraction from the beginning (poor Lily!), but once again, Etna Bliss – the ice queen who is and isn’t Stella Bain – hadn’t needed to confide her true intentions in us. (hide spoiler)] She had earlier apologized to the court for sounding “overly self-regarding,” and you know what? She is. No third star for her.

  • Michelle
    2019-02-03 15:39

    The problem with Stella Bain is not necessarily the story. It is well-written, enjoyable, and interesting. The fault lies in the synopsis. The synopsis details only the first third of the novel as Stella struggles to regain her memories. Once she does that, the story veers in a completely different, and much unanticipated, direction. A reader expects one story and gets something else. The plot shift is disconcerting and, for readers unable to put aside any preconceived expectations, off-putting.There is no doubt that Stella has strength of character and honor, given that she volunteers as a nurse during World War I well before her country officially becomes involved in the war effort. She is independent and fiercely driven, as seen by her reluctance to accept the Bridges’ help and her insistence obtaining entrance to the Admiralty. The story eventually reveals the source of her determination and courage in scenes meant to shock but ultimately not wholly unexpected given what readers know about Stella to that point. In fact, there are so many twists and shifts in narrative that they soon lose their ability to surprise and instead become predictable.Where Stella Bain excels is in its discussion of shell shock, or in the current terminology post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even though the novel occurs in 1917-1918, its exploration of this mysterious illness is eerily timely as hospitals around the country struggle to help the hundreds of thousands of Gulf War and Afghanistan War military vets who battle this disorder every day. While more is known about the injury today, a reader gets the impression that for many, public sentiment remains the same today as it did for Stella. Her very real physical pains and months-long total amnesia show insight into the types of vague and haunting torture sufferers face daily.Stella Bain is a relatively simple novel that attempts to tackle too many weighty topics, of which shell shock and its physical manifestations are just one example. Stella’s story also covers abusive marriages, love, friendship, maternal instinct versus the need for independence, gender norms of the 1910s, and more. The fact that the story shifts its focus from amnesia and rediscovery to something completely different may cause some discomfort because it happens so suddenly. Ultimately, the story is too ambitious and does not do adequate justice to its heavy subject matter.

  • Betsy
    2019-01-31 11:28

    Fans of Anita Shreve will not be disappointed with "Stella Bain." Her newest book has all of the elements that have made Shreve such a popular author: it's compelling, disturbing, sometimes hard to read, impossible to put down. The story concerns a young woman found outside a garden in London who knows nothing of her past prior to waking up in a French infirmary on the front lines of WWI. As the story unfolds, we learn that Stella is suffering from amnesia, as a result of shell shock incurred while she was working as a nurses' aide and ambulance driver during the war. Stella also suffers from another, deeply repressed trauma that only comes to light with the help of a British surgeon and his wife, who take Stella in and care for her until she is able to uncover her past. The book lost some of its steam about two-thirds of the way through. Without giving too much away, let me just say that the ending was somewhat predictable and the description of the trial (which occurred in the second half of the book) wasn't nearly as believable as Shreve's depiction of Stella's experiences during the war. I found those scenes absolutely riveting and I admire Shreve's ability to pull me in so completely, I could almost imagine being there.I didn't know very much about shell shock prior to reading "Stella Bain" and I found it was a good introduction. The beginnings of art therapy and Freudian psychoanalysis are also explored, adding another layer of interest to the story.Overall, "Stella Bain" was an easy, enjoyable read. However, there is a deceptive lightness to Shreve's work. She's not a self-indulgent writer - her prose is simple and unassuming - there are no wasted words. But don't underestimate the power of her story-telling. Shreve will pull you in and not let go until its 1:30am in the morning and you've finished the last page! And this story, just like her others, will haunt you long after it's over. I received this book to review from GoodReads Early Readers program.

  • Abby
    2019-01-27 13:36

    Although not one of Shreve's best, an entertaining read if you're not looking for character development. This was a plot driven novel, not character driven, and this has been reminiscent of Shreve for the last few of her books. A lot of what happened in the book did not make sense and I found myself not having sympathy for Stella/Etna because she caused her own trouble. Her stance that she was a good mother did not jive with the notion that she left her children with no warning with the man that had raped her (her husband), all to find a man that her daughter accused of touching her (because she doesn't believe it happened, with no proof that it didn't). This is apparently a sequel to her novel "All He Ever Wanted" which I have read. Since that story was written 10 years ago, I think it would have been helpful if the publisher or Shreve had mentioned something of that nature at the beginning of this book. Although it is a "sequel" per say, I don't believe they are connected. "All He Ever Wanted" was much better in emotion and character development. This is not Shreve's first attempt at pre-quel or sequel either. Sea Glass and Fortune Rocks, both great novels, fit into this category. This didn't pan out for me though.I think the story was fast paced and good, but when you look at it from a literary standpoint, I give it a 3. I am hoping that Shreve will return with a novel more like Fortune Rocks or The Pilot's Wife and less like Body Surfing and Stella Bain.

  • Jenifer (JensCorner)
    2019-01-27 10:36

    A woman is found, unconscious & in a cart, on a hospital porch. When she wakes up, she has no idea who she is or how she got there. This is her story.It's 1916 and France has been at war. Countless lives have been devastated by loss or injuries. Stella Bain is among the injured. After several months of recovery, she beings to help out as a nurse's aid. A draw to the Admiralty won't go away. So, on her leave, she makes the journey.Lily Bridge finds an exhausted woman by her fence. She and her husband, August, take the woman in. They nurse her back to health. Stella and August attempt to gain her memory back. Beyond vivid pictures she draws that have an emotional tie, they get nowhere. On a trip to the Admiralty, one word changes everything: Etna.Suddenly Stella remembers she has 2 children in America. She also has a husband, and her name is Etna. She remembers why she fled her home after a devastating secret comes to light. She must fight to get her youngest child back. This story is nothing short of compelling. I enjoyed reading how Etna fights for her life, fights to restore her past, and secure the future she wants. This book is a story of a woman's strength against overwhelming odds against her.

  • Marti
    2019-02-18 13:44

    Anita Shreve writes books that can transform a simple story into an epic story of love or hate. I find that I either really enjoy her books or I am ambivalent. I was ambivalent with Stella Bain. The main character of the story was Stella Bain (hence the title). The plot of the story was a young woman with amnesia who did not know her name, her history and how she came to be in France helping an English group with an American accent. We followed that young woman in France as she was an ambulance driver and an assistant in the field hospitals. Her desire to find her self and her history drove her to leave France for England and to Dr August Bridge. The story had many twists and turns and we find out more and more information as the story progresses. This is also a story that tells of shell-shocked victim and the horrible injuries that occurred as part of World War One.The memory loss coupled with feelings of guilt and fear could have been more haunting: the story more invested with deeper feelings.