Monthly Archives: October 2018

‘The Stars are Fire’ by Anita Shreve

“In October 1947, Grace Holland is experiencing two simultaneous droughts. An unseasonably hot, dry summer has turned the state of Maine into a tinderbox, and Grace and her husband, Gene, have fallen out of love and barely speak. Five months pregnant and caring for two toddlers, Grace has resigned herself to a life of loneliness and domestic chores. One night she awakes to find that wildfires are racing down the coast, closer and closer to her house. Forced to pull her children into the ocean to escape the flames, Grace watches helplessly as everything she knows burns to the ground. By morning, her life is forever changed: she is homeless, penniless, awaiting news of her husband’s fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. With courage and stoicism, Grace overcomes devastating loss and, through the smoke, is able to glimpse the opportunity to rewrite her own story.”

Based on the actual Great Fire of ’47 in Maine, this was such a great novel, gripping, unpredictable, and totally captivating. Anita Shreve has always been one of my favourite authors. I’ve read most of her literary page-turners, which are many, and try to read one or two every year. This is her last and final book because sadly Shreve died earlier this year after living a long time with cancer. Her books feature strong resilient characters and offer beautiful images of water, light, and in this case fire.  There’s a dark and earthy sensual feel to her writing which I love, and this one has a number of amazing twists and turns.

‘Educated’ by Tara Westover

This non-sentimental and non-judgemental yet very personal story has rendered me speechless and yet I am compelled to discuss it with others who have read it. I keep thinking about it. It was gripping, I had to put it down once in awhile, but then I had to pick it up again. It’s best, I think, to not try to describe it, but to let you discover it on your own. I will say that this remarkable true story not only speaks of family, mental illness, survival, resilience, and child development, but also points beyond (as all good memoirs should) to the vital importance of education.

You may not want to watch this until you have read the book: