Monday, March 17, 2008

An historical lesson that goes down smoothly

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Review: While reading this book, one is forced to wonder how much it is meant to be a commentary on the current situation in the Middle East. And indeed, the political and historical expositions can be a little heavy-handed. And yet I found these easy to forgive, due mainly to the engaging voice of Agnes, our narrator. She has a very fresh and conversational tone that allows the reader to take in the information without feeling bashed over the head with it. And, I have to say, a lot of the description of how the Middle East was divvied up after WWI was very interesting in light of what's happened since in that region.

Most of the book is just good narrative. Agnes tells us her story as though we were sitting down over a cup of tea, and her conversational tone draws the reader in right away. Her tales of meeting Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), and the others at the Cairo Peace Conference are wonderfully told, and her descriptions of Egypt, Jerusalem, and the other places she visits make them come alive. And of course, the way she tells us about her beloved dachshund Rosie are simply delightful!

I've been a big fan of Mary Doria Russell's books since I discovered them, and this one did not let me down.

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