Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 2009 - Dreamers of the Day: A Novel

I just finished Mary Doria Russell's Dreamers of the Day: A Novel. This is a sort of timely travelogue and historical fiction piece about the middle east and western imperialism in the early 1900's.

It starts out pretty slow going. We follow the narrator through a rather dull, dreary childhood. In that sense, it brought to mind Of Human Bondage. The plot picks up when the heroine inherits a fortune and kicks up her heels. Unfortunately, the story does not wander off into Somerset Maugham's transcendentalism, but instead follows the narrator through some rather more mundane experiences.

The book is marginally worth reading. Mary Doria Russell is an accomplished author, no doubt about that, so anything she writes is probably worth reading. But I've never been keen on historical fiction because I'm never sure what's supposed to be real and what's made up (even though this book has a short appendix going into some of that). I didn't like the way the book ended, with some pseudo-mysticism or magical realism, whatever that was. And like I said, the beginning was a bit of a yawner. I found the narrator only mildly interesting - i.e. sympathetic, but kind of boring. I suspect this book was much more fun to research and write than it was to read. Perhaps fans of historical fiction would differ with me.

I see the author has a new book planned which is based on the life of Doc Holliday. I'll definitely take a look at that when it comes out; sounds more interesting to me.

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