THE STARS ARE FIRE Anita Shreve Hachette Australia, $30
How much can one woman weather before she breaks? Conducting this experiment is prolific author Anita Shreve and her novel’s heroine – young, pregnant mother-of-two Grace Holland – is her subject. When The Stars
Are Fire begins, the biggest challenge facing Grace is drying her laundry during a wet spell. That changes when the spring rains give way to a hot, dry summer that only ends when bushfires ravage her coastal town, taking all she owns and forcing her and her children into the ocean to escape. As the fire burns out and she is pulled from the sea she must navigate a new future: homeless, penniless and a potential widow when husband Gene fails to return from fighting the fire. Set in 1947, the tale plays out over a year. Its strength is the gradual evolution of Grace from a meek and desperate housewife to a strong, independent young woman.