My introduction to Anita Shreve came many years ago when I picked up a copy of The Pilot’sWife. Something interesting about that book is that it is part of a quartet. I say the word quartet loosely because the only thing that joins these four books is a house. To me, that is so interesting. Think about how many people might live in a house in a fifty or hundred year time span. All of the living that must have taken place between those people and those walls. A house can be many things. Somewhere to lay your head or eat a meal, spend time with family, or a quiet spot to shut out the world. The walls of a house bear the remnants of tears and shouts, the expressions of joy and pain, as well as the times of heartbreak and celebration. The walls of house become the walls of a home when they continually stand steady through the many chapters of life being lived.
I believe the order to read the four ( if you want to read them as they would take place on a time line) is:
1. Fortune’s Rocks (one of my favorite books)
2. Sea Glass
3. The Pilot’s Wife
4. Body Surfing
I read that Shreve was somewhere in New England (if I’m not mistaken) and she went on a walk and came upon a house that sparked an idea. I just love that. I think a lot when I walk, (probably too much) maybe one day, thousands of miles from now I will come up with a good idea for a story!
Shreve has written many books beside the four mentioned above. I have read several of them. Usually they involve a love story of sorts. I hadn’t read a book of hers in a while when I came across this copy of Stella Bain.
Below is the synopsis from Amazon:
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.
Her books have always had a solemn quality about them (at least to me),which is a characteristic I know I am drawn to in stories. Her last book published was The Stars Are Fire and came out in 2017. Sadly, Anita Shreve passed away last year.
If you haven’t read anything by her, give Fortune’s Rocks, Body Surfing, or Testimony a shot.
“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.”