WW1 setting for Anita Shreve in The Lives of Stella Bain

I like novels set during the first world war and I also like Anita Shreve so The Lives of Stella Bain jumped off the shelf when I spotted it in my local indie bookstore.

This is a short novel and at just 272 pages The Lives of Stella Bain perhaps doesn’t fully do justice to the themes it sets out to explore but the characters are believable and the plot is interesting.

There are some nods to the fads of the early 1900s — such as Freudian psychoanalysis — that often crop up in novels set during World War 1 and the horrors endured by medical and nursing personnel tending war-wounded with limited, often useless resources are sensitively described.

For me, aspects of The Lives of Stella Bain recall other novel like Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy. This work by Anita Shreve is a slighter novel but it is an enjoyable and easy read. I liked it.

The Lives of Stella Bain by Anita Shreve is published by Little Brown. ISBN 9781408702963. 

See also Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve is a psychological thriller. There are authors you come to rely on to deliver consistency. For me,  Massachusetts-born Anita Shreve is one such author. I don’t think I have yet been disappointed by any of her novels.

Pack an Anita Shreve novel in your bag when you are heading off on on holiday and you are guaranteed a couple of hours entertainment.

Difficult themes

Shreve’s themes are often difficult and she will make you question your values and judgments so although the novels are easy to read, they do not always make for comfortable reading.

That said, the stories are compelling and well told.

I particularly like her earlier books like The Weight of Water and Fortune’s Rocks.

Published more recently, Testimony, is about a sex scandal in a New England school. At its heart is a shocking incident that takes place in the school. The story unfolds from the way in which the incident is discovered and handled by the school authorities and others. It is told from the perspective of the various characters caught up in and affected by the fallout. Interesting and challenging, Testimony will make you think.

If you like the sound of Testimony, you might also like The Lives of Stella Bain.