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Review: Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

Stella Bain - Anita Shreve

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 really is her name, wakes up from what I assumed was a concussion though it's later referred to as shell shock in a French army hospital and is not quite sure how she got there. When someone mentions the Admiralty in London, she becomes obsessed with traveling there, sure that it holds the answer to her forgotten past.

This first portion of the book is told in an odd first person present tense style that I believe is meant to put the reader inside Stella's head where all she is certain of is this moment. I found it choppy and distracting. Once Stella is in London, she meets the angelic Lily Bridge and her husband August, who decides that he would like to try help Stella retrieve her memory and personality from wherever it has become buried. The style of writing slowly changes to more common past tense, which was a relief.

The story was slow getting to this point and I thought the pace would pick up once Stella had her 'aha moment' but it didn't. Instead, we move into a strange stretch of the story being told disjointedly through letters to and from Stella, her visits with remembered family, and her thoughts of those she has left behind in Europe.

Finally, the last portion of the book is taken up with a mundane custody hearing that I thought was covered in far too much detail for no real purpose. Without giving away too much, I will just say that the final plot twists and romances left a lot to be desired in my opinion.

Overall, I just found this story rather bland, disconnected, and with little substance that made me feel anything for the characters.

I received this book through a Goodreads Firstread Giveaway. The opinions expressed are my own.