Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dreamers of the Day

Dreamers of the Day. Mary Doria Russell. 2008. Random House. 254 pages. 

I suppose I ought to warn you at the outset that my present circumstances are puzzling, even to me. Nevertheless, I am sure of this much: my little story has become your history. You won't really understand your times until you understand mine.

There were a few things that I just loved about Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. For example, I loved the first few chapters. Readers see the impact of World War I and the 'Spanish' influenza on our heroine, Miss Agnes Shanklin. She truly lost everyone. Her mother. Her sister. Her brother-in-law. Her two nephews. Her brother. These chapters spent describing both the war and the influenza were truly fascinating. Here she is as a young woman trying to make sense of the world, of the war, of her place in it all, she's just an ordinary woman, a school teacher, and within weeks or at the very most months, to face such sudden devastation.
A few months after these losses, she decides to visit the Middle East, to visit Egypt, Cairo, in particular. She wants to see the land where her brother-in-law and sister spent their happiest years together before the War. Her sister was friends with T.E. Lawrence, and soon she is too. She is soon mingling with other famous people too--like Winston Churchill and Lady Gertrude Bell. She is listening to their heated discussions on the Middle East. Everyone has an opinion on what is best for the many people who live there, an opinion on who should rule, how they should rule, how many countries or nations, etc.
She also makes a "special" friend while in Cairo. A man who is very, very interested in what she has to say. A man who listens intently. A man who always treats her with such kindness and respect. But this "relationship" has its basis in politics too, as she later realizes.
But as much as I loved a few things about this novel, there were other things that I just did not like at all. And these weren't small things that were bothering me. For example, I did NOT care for the narration at all. I do not like dead-narrators, for the most part. People who are telling their life story from beyond-the-grave. I do not like dead people narrating on the present, and sharing their so-called wisdom. I especially do not like opinionated dead narrators who treat Christianity with disdain and contempt.

Read Dreamers of the Day
  • If you are interested in novels set during the 1920s, this one, I believe, is set in 1920/1921.
  • If you are interested in reading about World War I, the 'Spanish' influenza, etc.
  • If you are interested in politics and history
  • If you are interested in the Middle East, the formation of the Middle East; much of this one is set in Egypt, but they also travel to Palestine.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

I really like all of those things. I will have to see about a copy.

Anonymous said...

Goodness... so where are you going Becky? Thailand, India or Australia? Or perhaps make a tour of it & go to all three?;)


Anna said...

Your review will be featured on War Through the Generations on May 21.