Books & Literature

Book Review: The Book of Dreams, by Nina George

A bittersweet and magical tale about the distance one man will travel for love and of making peace with the past in order to find a future.

This novel encourages us to make the most of every moment with our loved ones and live the best life we can.

Nina George is a German writer who is well known for her best-selling novel, The Little Paris Bookshop which was translated into 28 languages and sold over half a million copies. She has published 26 books plus hundreds of short stories and columns. She has also written under three pen-names.

This new novel is exactly as the title suggests: a book of dreams. It is about two people who are in a coma, and the two people who keep vigil at their bedsides. One patient is Henri, a war correspondent who is on his way to see the son he has never met. He is hit by a car after he has jumped in the river to save a small girl from drowning. The other is 12-year-old Madelyn, the only survivor of a car crash that killed her entire family. They are visited by Sam, Henri’s son and Eddie a former girlfriend of Henri. It is a story of lost love, first love and the love between a father and son.

This book was not an easy read. It took many sittings to finish it. Each chapter contains one day from the perspective of Sam and Eddie, but also the dreams of the two coma patients, Henri and Maddie.  During the course of the dreams we find out their past and how it has affected their present. But as with all dreams, reality can change, and we can create our own realities. The dreams are never the same, so we are left to sift through these dreams to find the truth.

I found the repetition of the dreams with small modifications each time, tedious and I didn’t feel as invested in the characters as I usually am. There was not enough action to keep me interested. I did feel for Sam, Eddie and Henri as they mourned the lack of time they had together and Maddie as she came to grips with being alone after losing all her family, but because they grappled in their dreams, it was hard to really identify with them.

Sam is also a synesthete, one who perceives the world in colours and smells. With this added sensory perception, he can feel and understand what the patients are dreaming and connect with the patients at some level.

The doctors and nurses who look after the two patients are kind and caring, and we catch a glimpse of the day to day life in an intensive care unit, and the wonderful work these carers do.

This novel encourages us to make the most of every moment with our loved ones and live the best life which we are capable of living. George herself says in the Afterward that this book is not “market friendly” and I agree. It is not a book for everybody, but it completes her cycle of three books on mortality. And if you have already been on this journey with George then you will no doubt want to continue till the end.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Released: April 2019
RRP: $29.99

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