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Review: Stella Bain

February 18, 2014

Stella Bain

When a young woman wakes up in an Army hospital in France during World War I, she has no idea who she is or how or why she got there.   To add to the confusion, she’s wearing a British uniform but speaks with an American accent.  The name Stella Bain comes to her and she realizes she can drive an ambulance so she offers her services.

She’s happy to be of service and to be occupied but longs to know about her past.  She makes her way to a doctor in the UK and, with his help, she remembers who she is and tries to come to terms with her past.

I was drawn to Stella Bain by Anita Shreve because I’ve enjoyed Shreve’s work in the past and I’m a sucker for a good amnesia story.  I did enjoy the book but didn’t love it the way I thought I might.  It’s told in the third person so I felt somewhat removed from the story and never felt the characters’ emotions.

When the main character discovers her past, it turns out she was a woman ahead of her time.  I felt for her and her predicament even though I struggled to believe her modern day sensibilities at times.   The book didn’t end the way I thought it would but that’s not a bad thing since I was satisfied with the ending.  Overall, I thought Stella Bain was good but not great.

I listened to the audio version of Stella Bain and thought Hope Davis did a great job with the material.  It’s on 6 CDs and lasts approximately 7 hours.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2014 9:34 am

    Funny, I just finished The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes in which the protagonist wakes up in a hospital room and can’t remember who she is or how she got there!

  2. Patty permalink
    February 18, 2014 10:01 am

    Enjoyed your thoughts…about this book….I have always loved her work. Sometimes I think I read so much that every book I read is awesome but there is always that let down…where I think I wanted more from it…even though ultimately it was good?

  3. Beth F permalink
    February 18, 2014 10:16 am

    I really like Shreve but for some reason this one hasn’t called to me. If I decide to give it a chance, I’ll hold my expectations in check.

  4. February 18, 2014 10:16 am

    I didn’t read your review yet because I’ll be reading this as part of a read-a-long with Anna at War Through the Generations in August. I’m glad you enjoyed it, even if you didn’t love it.

  5. February 18, 2014 11:55 am

    I have this book and like you, enjoy amnesia stories. I just finished Love, Water, Memory and since I liked it so much, I will wait a bit to read this one.

  6. February 18, 2014 12:23 pm

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read an “amnesia story” that I really loved.

  7. February 18, 2014 12:45 pm

    Great review, I have enjoyed some but not all of Shreve’s books. I like this time period though so that would possibly sway me to take a peek. Thanks for sharing!

  8. February 18, 2014 1:58 pm

    I’ve kind of been on a “like it, not love it” run myself.

  9. February 18, 2014 2:01 pm

    I think most reviews I’ve read of this one are similar in the like but not love category. I do want to read this one. I will have to keep my expectations low.

  10. February 18, 2014 3:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have found most of Shreve’s work pretty awesome, except for a few that just didn’t grab me. This one sounds like one I’ll put on the list, but not at the top.

  11. talesofwhimsy permalink
    February 18, 2014 3:35 pm

    Can you believe I’ve yet to read an A.S.?

  12. February 18, 2014 4:27 pm

    I’ve enjoyed several of Shreve’s novels and am drawn to the premise of this one. I won’t expect to be bowled over when I get to it though.

  13. February 18, 2014 5:00 pm

    I have this and do hope to read it at some point. I kind of go back and forth on what I think of Shreve, but this did sound interesting.

  14. February 18, 2014 5:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about this audiobook, Kathy. I am very slowly (very, very slowly) listening to Rescue by Anita Shreve as I drive.

  15. February 18, 2014 8:05 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever read an amnesia story, thank you for your thoughts.

  16. February 18, 2014 9:22 pm

    I’ve read and liked Shreve’s books. This is a new one for me. Thanks for the review.

  17. sandynawrot permalink
    February 19, 2014 6:49 am

    Hope Davis is a fantastic narrator! I’d almost listen to this just to hear her.

  18. bookingmama permalink
    February 19, 2014 9:26 am

    Pretty much agree with your review. I just wanted something more from this story.

  19. February 19, 2014 9:56 am

    I’ve enjoyed Shreve’s novels in the past but haven’t read one in years. Sounds like this might be one I should skip, though, so I’ll consider some of her other books instead.

  20. February 19, 2014 10:15 am

    I’ve been wondering about this one. I used to be such a fan of hers but I’ve found her latest books not as good as her earlier ones. I may eventually listen to the audio but I’m not in a rush.

  21. February 19, 2014 11:16 am

    I used to like Shreve but I have to be in the right mood for her.

  22. February 19, 2014 4:00 pm

    I have to remember to read this book, sounds good.

  23. Elizabeth permalink
    February 20, 2014 7:59 am

    I always really THINK I’m going to like Shreve, and then it never quite lives up. That said, I am sure I will read this one eventually, too.

  24. swright9 permalink
    February 20, 2014 11:48 pm

    Yeah she usually puts out some good books but I wonder if the amnesia plot would be a stretch for me. I liked her book The Weight of Water once upon a time. thanks

  25. February 22, 2014 11:09 am

    I love Shreve but it’s too close to my reading of Love Water Memory last month. I know I’ll get to it eventually.

  26. February 23, 2014 1:10 am

    I liked most of Shreve’s early novels but was disappointed in the last one I read. I plan on reading this one for the War Through the Generations read-along in August.

  27. February 23, 2014 11:57 pm

    I have this one but for some reason am not excited to read it.

  28. February 26, 2014 4:33 pm

    Glad to see you liked it. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Shreve, but I remember that the ones I’ve read always ended differently than how I’d expected them to. She certainly has a way of twisting stories around right at the end, so I’m kind of curious to see if that’s what happens here.

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