FIC­TION

THE STARS ARE FIRE Anita Shreve Ha­chette Aus­tralia, $30

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Between The Lines - BELINDA SEENEY

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.

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