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In October 1947, after a summer-long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast, from Bar Harbor to Kittery, and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands' fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists.
In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms - joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain - and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens - and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 06-02-17
Disaster Strikes In 1947
This story is set on the Maine coast and deals with what is now referred to as "The Great Fires of 1947" where 200,000 acres of land and houses burned and it took almost a decade for the area to recover. This disaster forms the backdrop for another more personal story of crisis for the main character, Grace and her marriage.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and found myself listening with full attention. I loved the look at Maine in the late 1940's. I thought the description of the fire was heart pounding and harrowing. However, from a medical stand point, I struggled with the details related to burn victim care--even for the time. This was a small distraction for me and in the end it didn't ruin the story.
Be aware, the book deals with difficult topics, focusing on people in the midst of devastation coping with injury, loss and violence. Marital turbulence was also a strong theme. This was a fast paced listen and my first Shreve novel. I thought the blend of fiction during a nonfiction event was good. However, do keep in mind that parts of the story might contain too much graphic material and turmoil for some more gentle readers.
25 of 29 people found this review helpful