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Shreve's 17th novel is a tragic yet hopeful story of love, memory, loss, and rebuilding. A young woman wakes up with amnesia in a battlefield hospital tent in Marne, France, in 1916. She thinks her name is Stella Bain, and she thinks she knows how to nurse and drive an ambulance. As she recovers, she returns to duty in this new environment, caring for the wounded and dying. When she arrives in the city exhausted and destitute, she's discovered in a park by a doctor's wife, who takes her in. The doctor, Augustus Bridge, is a cranial surgeon with an interest in psychiatry. Stella becomes a "quasi-patient"; he finds a way to get her into the Admiralty, and, when a former friend recognizes her by name, her memories return, including the fact that she has children-and the reason why she left them. The amnesia and its cause are only part of the story; the lack of understanding at the time of the consequences of witnessing the horrors of war, for both men and women, also plays a key role. The novel is both tender and harsh, and the only false note is the use of present tense, which prevents the reader from being pulled in more closely. Shreve's thoughtful, provocative, historical tale has modern resonance. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Shreve is back with a period piece that will keep readers thinking. In the midst of World War I, a woman finds herself lost and alone in London with no idea of who she is or how she got there. After being taken in by a kind, wealthy couple, Lily Bridge and her doctor husband, August, slowly a few memories return to her. Her name is Stella Bain, and she needs to go to a military location called The Admiralty to find the person who has the key to unlock the rest of her memories. As the story unfolds, Stella does find her identity and the reasons that made her abandon her American family and head off to Europe to help in the war. She ends up in a nasty court battle and eventually meets back up with Dr. Bridge in an emotional conclusion. VERDICT With period pieces on television such as Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife becoming so popular, Shreve has chosen a timely setting. As usual, her plotlines and domestic drama do not disappoint. The masses of Shreve fans will line up for this one, as will some Downton Abbey enthusiasts. [See Prepub Alert, 6/1/13; five-city tour.]-Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.