Author Anita Shreve, whose books The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water made her a top-seller and were later adapted into films, has died. She succumbed to cancer at age 71, according to her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.
Shreve’s oeuvre explored how New England women in crisis handled their affairs. She lived that in her real life as well – Shreve announced her illness last year via Facebook, saying she could not tour for her final novel, The Stars Are Fire, because of a “medical emergency.”
Jordan Pavlin, a Knopf editor, said Shreve’s “writing has touched the lives of millions of readers around the world, and she did some of her most elegant, rich, and unforgettable work in the last years of her life. Her body of work is extraordinary, and her books will continue to be read for generations.”
Born in Dedham, Massachusetts, Shreve graduated from Tufts University and embarked on a teaching career as she began writing fiction in the late 1980s. Her first novel was Eden Close in 1989.
Her works quickly grew an avid fan base, given wings particularly after Oprah Winfrey chose The Pilot’s Wife for her book club in 1999. That book, along with Resistance and The Weight of Water were later adapted into movies. The Pilot’s Wife film version was made into a TV movie starring Christine Lahti and Campbell Scott, while the film version of The Weight of Water starred Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley, and Resistance starred Bill Paxton and Julia Ormond.
Overall, her books sold more than six million copies. Shreve wrote 19 novels, and her literary honors included an O. Henry Prize for the story Past the Island, Drifting and being a finalist for England’s Orange Prize for The Weight of Water.
Shreve was married twice, mostly recently to John Osborn. She had two daughters. There was no information available on a planned memorial service.