The Lives of Stella Bain

  • by Anita Shreve
  • Narrated by Penelope Rawlins
  • 8 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in a London garden, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in. However, Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest.
Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.


What the Critics Say

"Poised and absolutely steady-handed, this is a gripping piece of deconstruction" (Sunday Times on Testimony)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Poor narration spoils an ok story.

Bought this for my wife, as she's an Anita Shreve fan, but as yet she's not listened to it. As a man, I've found it passable listening. Storyline was decent but not gripping. The fly in the ointment was Penelope Rawlins's performance. Other listeners may differ, but her 'normal' voice was difficult to take, but then there came all the different male voices: oh dear. She tends to make them all sound like automatons with a lack of variation in tone or emphasis. The nearer the end, the more male voices there are, the less ignorable the problem was. Maybe it won't bother you as much. I would be wary of other narrations by Ms Rawlins, I'm afraid.
The story tells of an American woman's experiences around a difficult marriage and as a nurse/driver during WW1 in France when she loses her memory. Whilst she faces some horrific events in the War, I feel that Shreve doesn't really give them full weight, rather surfing over them. As I'm not familiar with her writing, I don't know if that is her style. The effect for me was to have less belief in her understanding of what her characters were going through.
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- Liz... Bristol

Not Anita Shreve's best

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I have read all of Anita Shreve's books but this was the first time on an audio book. I am not sure if it was the narration or the writing but it was not a huge success.

Would you recommend The Lives of Stella Bain to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably not. There seem to be a lot of books being written about the First World War at present, no doubt because of the centenary, and Anita Shreve has written a number of historical books, concentrating mostly on the American north-east. This also moved back to the US but the first part of the book concerned the memory loss of the protagonist in Northern France. The story was not entirely convincing and almost formulaic in structure.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Penelope Rawlins?

Yes but preferably one where there were no British characters.

Could you see The Lives of Stella Bain being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

No a bit too thin and interiorised to make into a film or TV series

Any additional comments?

It won't make me give up on Anita Shreve.

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- Jane

Book Details

  • Release Date: 25-11-2013
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks