Shreve's first novel, The Obituary Writer, about a young journalist in 1989 St. Louis who gets in over his head when a young widow asks him to pursue her story, was a 2000 New York Times Notable Book, a Book Sense Pick, and a Borders Original Voices selection. The New York Times called the novel "an involving and sneakily touching story whose twists feel less like the conventions of a genre than the convolutions of a heart - any heart." Shreve's second novel, Drives Like a Dream, about an empty nest mother in Detroit who hatches a scheme to lure her far-flung children home, was a 2005 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year, a People "Great Reads" Selection and a Britannica Book of the Year. The Washington Post called Drives Like a Dream “a beautiful novel, carefully put together, full of charming secondary characters, charitable to all.”
Shreve's third novel, When the White House Was Ours, will be published in September 2008, and touches upon previous election years, including 2000 and 1976. According to Houghton Mifflin, When the White House Was Ours is loosely based on Shreve's own childhood and is "the atmospheric and captivating story of a family’s struggle to stay together against great odds. It's 1976, and while the country prepares to celebrate the bicentennial, Daniel Truitt's family is falling apart. His father, Pete, has been fired from yet another teaching job, and his mother, Valerie, is one step away from leaving for good. But when Pete lucks into a crumbling mansion in the nation's capital, he makes a bold plan to start a school under his own roof where students and teachers will be equals. Replete with the wry humor, human insight and cultural resonance that characterizes Shreve’s critically acclaimed fiction, When the White House Was Ours will be a joy to anyone whose family has lived through an idealistic time and ended up in an era of compromise."