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The Boston Globe


Book Review

‘Stella Bain’ by Anita Shreve

A young woman wakes up in a military hospital in France in 1916, suffering from pneumonia, shell shock, and debilitating pain in her feet from shrapnel. Initially, she can’t even remember her name, much less the telling details of her life — such as, for instance, how she ended up in a hospital bed. Gradually, the young American recalls that she has nursing experience and once drove an ambulance. And the name Stella Bain “bubbles up into her consciousness.”

But beyond that, Stella’s previous life is a blank, and she faces the thought of remembering with an undercurrent of trepidation. “Stella has no idea where she has come from. She senses it might be an unhappy place, a door she might not want to open.” Nonetheless, finding the portal back to memories of her previous life becomes Stella’s consuming passion.

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