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Stella Bain

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  11,370 Ratings  ·  1,687 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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Oct 29, 2013 Samantha rated it it was ok
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
Jan 23, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
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!

Deborah Ideiosepius  omnivorous reader
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
Nov 19, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
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 ☔
Oct 30, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
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
Dec 17, 2013 Cloda rated it really liked it
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
Oct 14, 2013 Whitney rated it it was ok
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
Nov 17, 2013 Amy Warrick rated it liked it
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
Oct 29, 2013 Carol rated it it was ok
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
Jan 30, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
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
Oct 09, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
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
Nov 04, 2013 Sandy rated it it was ok
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.
Nov 15, 2013 Desiree rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-challenge
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.
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
Debbie Robson
Nov 27, 2016 Debbie Robson rated it liked it
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
Nov 21, 2013 Mirella rated it it was amazing
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
Cathy B
Nov 10, 2013 Cathy B rated it liked it
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
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
Kelly B
Jan 14, 2014 Kelly B rated it it was ok
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
Dec 01, 2013 Julia rated it liked it
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
Dec 29, 2013 Kristin rated it liked it
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
Jul 04, 2013 LG rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2013 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
Dec 03, 2013 Abby rated it liked it
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
Jenifer (JensCorner)
Oct 22, 2013 Jenifer (JensCorner) rated it it was amazing
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
Ruthanne Davis
Nov 13, 2013 Ruthanne Davis rated it really liked it
I liked it...I really liked it! I hadn't read an Anita Shreve book in many years and was so pleased that she hasn't lost her sensitive touch with words and people's emotions.
The story begins with a V.A.D. young woman...which means Voluntary Aid Detachment (I had to look it up) who were nurses aids or ambulance drivers during WWI. Stella Baine is injured and loses her memory. Saying much more than that would lead me to spoilers.
Interestingly, one of the major characters in this book, her ex-husba
Jun 20, 2013 Alissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, historical, 2014
Not quite what I expected but a great historical story about a woman's life, independence and motherhood. The narrator on the audio was fantastic. I enjoyed all the period details and was appalled by the lack of women's rights less than 100 years ago. The character is a woman ahead of her time and interesting.
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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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