Book Review: Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
“To be enjoyed, life must be shared.”
Historical fiction at its best: opens the past as can only be done by fiction; while connecting to the reader’s present in ways that are both entertaining and informative. Neatly melds modern opinion with history. Compare this with James Michener’s Caravans, telling in 1963 how the world was going to lose Afghanistan.
“America, I recalled, were notorious colonial troublemakers.” “As the Arabs promise to be,” Lawrence said quietly.
All of the narrowness and prejudices one would expect of a 1920s American abroad–like Mark Twain’s 1869 Innocents Abroad, but Russell’s protagonist is open to learning and change. Ideal point of view character.
“Soil so fertile that you could plant a pencil and harvest a book.”
Great writing. Published in 2008. Cairo changed little from 1921 to 1984, when I visited. De rigueur atheists abound.
“To leave the apple unpicked–that was sin.”
Russell referred to documented statements by her historical characters to render their dialogue representative of their real opinions. Loved the Churchill quotes, present and future, and Agnes’ contribution to one of his most famous.
“You may believe you know what the flu epidemic was like for us. Pray, now, you never learn how wrong you are.”
Quibbles: Many of one fictional character’s facts are wrong about Egypt, perhaps intentionally. Great Pyramid was not the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1889. Half a dozen of Medieval European cathedrals and the Washington Monument surpassed it in the fourteenth through nineteenth centuries.
“The dreamers of the days are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” T. E. Lawrence
Oh, I’d like to read this. I have read her fiction – 2 books, as I recall. Titles escape me but I can remember the feel of them. I think I have them tucked away in cabinets under bookshelves. Thanks.
Currently reading two of her fiction: one historical, one science. Amazing.