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Stella Bain

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  8,126 ratings  ·  1,288 reviews
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 his
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2013)
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Sherry I haven't gotten too far in this book, but so far it would be fine for a 12 year old, but it does talk about the atrocities of war...maiming and dying…moreI haven't gotten too far in this book, but so far it would be fine for a 12 year old, but it does talk about the atrocities of war...maiming and dying of wounds. So if he/she is squeamish, I might wait another year or so.(less)

Community Reviews

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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 ...more
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!

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 ...more
Diane S.
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 w
Deborah Ideiosepius
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 earl
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 rathe ...more
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
Amy Warrick
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, withou ...more
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.
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 ...more
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 am ...more
3.5 stars
When 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
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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
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.
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.
Célia Loureiro
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 sup
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 mi ...more
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. ...more
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; ...more
Jenifer (JensCorner)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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 ...more
Nov 05, 2013 Betsy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
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 wh ...more
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, S
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 h ...more
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 li
This book opens with a great personal mystery, builds from there to a multi-dimensional quest of vindication and purpose, and then bogs down in sedate “time to wrap it all up” romance. I’m a big fan of Stella Bain for as long as she remains Stella. She’s a near-impossibly skilled and resolute woman who abandons a loveless marriage to serve in World War One France, and loses her rational mind more than once in the process.

Her goal at the outset of the book is to recover from shell shock, and reg
Tempo de Ler
A Vida Secreta de Stella Bain agradou-me especialmente pela sóbria e ágil luz que lança sobre a experiência feminina na Primeira Guerra Mundial. Forçadas a enfrentar uma realidade inédita que as colocou em situações instáveis e dolorosas, envolvendo muitas vezes a perda de entes queridos e a consequente destruição da família, as mulheres foram igualmente vítimas de stress pós-traumático. Obrigados as transformarem-se em algo que antes não eram, cada indivíduo acabou para contribuir para o novo p ...more
The story opens with Stella Bain waking up in a battlefield hospital tent in France in 1916. She has been injured and lost her memory. Impelled by instinct rather than anything else, she makes her way to London where she feels drawn to visit The Admiralty. Found alone and distressed in the street one day by kind-hearted Lily Bridge, she is taken pity on and cared for by Lily and her surgeon husband August. August is interested in the new “talking cure” that is being talked about in medical circl ...more
I’m a big fan of Anita Shreve, having read all of her previous novels so was really excited to get my hands on her newest book. Whilst it sounded amazing however, for me this is probably her weakest work to date. That’s not to say it was terrible- it’s just that her other books have been so good that this was admittedly something of a let-down in comparison.

Set against the backdrop of the French battlefields in WWI, a woman wakes up with no memory of who she is or what she is doing there. The o
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Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). A ...more
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