Review: The Book of Dreams by Nina George

Title: The Book of Dreams

Author: Nina George

Published: April 2019, Simon & Schuster

Status: Read April 2019, courtesy Simon & Schuster

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

Henri Malo Skinner is on his way to meet his son for the first time when he dives from a bridge to save a life, and nearly loses his own. Now he lies in a coma, caught in the Between, as his son, Sam, and the estranged love of his life, Eddie, will him to return to them.

Told from the perspectives of Henri, Samuel, and Eddie, The Book of Dreams is a study of lost chances, grief, love and letting go. It’s a heartfelt novel, in the Postscript the author explains it’s connection to the death of her father.

Samuel Noam Valentiner , a precocious 13 year old, waits for the father he desperately wants to know, to wake. Wandering the corridors, he stumbles across twelve year old Madelyn, a similarly vegetative patient, whose entire family was killed in the accident that injured her. Sam soon becomes a regular visitor, forming an inexplicable bond with the unresponsive girl. It is a poignant and moving connection, enhanced by Sam’s synesthesia, that is beautifully rendered by George.

“I can hear her breath and then, with my soul snuggling against her heart, I hear her breath become a note. The note becomes a tune, a breeze, but it’s not like Madelyn’s piano music. This wind has been scouring the earth for a long time and is now slowly rising, growing brighter, as it continues its quest over the cool, silvery, frost-rimmed, icy coating of a long, broad, frozen river. It is changing into a warming ray of sunlight, which captures the sparkling silence and then alights on a motionless ice sculpture, inside which a heart is beating. My heart.”

Eddie last saw Henri two years ago, when he cruelly broke her heart by disregarding her declaration of love and devotion. Nevertheless she is devastated by his current circumstances, and having been named as his Power of Attorney, she finds she can’t shirk the responsibility for his care. She is stunned to learn of Sam’s existence, but takes it her stride, I loved the relationship she developed with him, but mostly I admired her strength and heart.

“I sit on the floor and don my courage like a mask. I dissect my competing, struggling, mutually obstructive instincts until only three essential ones remain. I focus entirely on keeping them in my mind and preventing any other emotions from approaching them…..I breathe in and out and think: Affection. I take a deeper breathe and pray: Courage. I breathe in and beg: Be like Sam.”

As Henri lies in his coma, fighting hard to return to the world of the living, he experiences alternate versions of his past and future.

“I have searched and searched for the right life – and never found it. None of the lives was perfect, no matter what I did, or didn’t do.”

While the poetic prose and evocative imagery is often beautiful, it can also become somewhat tiring. I struggled too, with the pace of the novel, it drags in parts, particularly through the middle. However I liked The Book of Dreams for it’s powerful characterisations, and the thoughtful exploration of life, death, and what may lie Between.

And while it’s something I rarely comment on, I think the (Australian) cover of The Book of Dreams is gorgeous.

 

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

Simon & Schuster AU I Booktopia I Amazon AU I Book Depository

or your preferred retailer

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn
    Apr 11, 2019 @ 10:42:10

    Yes the cover of this is gorgeous. I picked it up in the shop yesterday and put it down again. Its a maybe. I do like her stories but exactly as you said the poetic prose puts me off a little. But will most likely succumb at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. fictionalblonde
    Apr 11, 2019 @ 21:01:49

    What a great review but I do not think that I would be into the poetic prose.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Night Owl Book Cafe (@nightowlbcafe)
    Apr 12, 2019 @ 07:52:04

    Sounds emotional and possibly beautiful, unfortunately as someone that does not read poems I feel like this would be lost on me

    Like

    Reply

  4. Tanya Atkinson
    Apr 12, 2019 @ 23:29:49

    Okay, just reading your review kind of got me choked up. The situation is just heartbreaking. But as good as the story sounds, I get the feeling that the writing style wouldn’t work for me. Too much purple prose is usually a pass for me. Wonderful review!

    Like

    Reply

  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What are you reading? | book'd out

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