☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆
What It’s About:
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, comes a delightful, offbeat, charming and bittersweet tale about the distance one man will travel for the sake of love and friendship.
Henri is about to meet his teenage son, Sam, for the first time. But as Henri crosses Hammersmith Bridge, an accident happens. Sam reads about it in the newspaper – his father is a hero, now in a coma in hospital. So their first meeting takes place there, alongside the hospital’s neurologist, whom the staff name God and is the first person to treat Sam as an equal in intelligence. And that’s because Sam, due to a condition called synaesthesia, can sense things the doctors can’t – he can see the colours of his father’s thoughts and dreams, and many relationships build from this.
This beautiful novel is warm, wise, wry look at what love means. It’s about fathers and sons, friendship and family, life, death and making peace with the past in order to find a future.
I loved and hated this book. Ms. George’s writing is lovely. Her prose is beautifully descriptive, and she has an incredibly enticing way of setting a scene that incorporates all of the reader’s senses. The author pours her love and grief for her late father into every page of her novel.
The opening scene is gripping, but it then took me awhile to get into the rhythm of the story and figure out the intersecting players. Once I read the author’s postscript, everything clicked and I easily fell into the story’s cadence. As the story progressed, I found myself embroiled in the wants, wishes and regrets of each of the primary characters.
Henri Malo Skinner is a man filled with regret and remorse. At most junctures in his life, his fear and self-loathing lead him to decisions that leave him alone and lonely. In his coma state, Henri relives some of these scenes on a continuous loop, but each time he makes different decisions which leads to different outcomes (to me, this had a repetitive feel that reminded me of the movie Groundhog Day). As he revisits these critical moments, his ex-lover, Edwina, and his son’s bedside presence permeate these dreams.
I loved the organic development of Edwina and Henri’s son’s, Sam, friendship. Both are interesting characters. Edwina is one of those female characters that you wish you knew in person. Sam is a synesthete; he feels everything deeply, he sees numbers as colors, he sees auras, and he can sense the space between living and death when he opens his mind to it. This makes for some interesting and eye-opening scenes in the story.
“How could I fritter away my life in such fear and on so many refusals, saying “no” at the wrong forks in the road and “I don’t know” at important ones?”
The Book of Dreams is a sad story of hope in the face of regrets and loss. At times I felt hopeful, and at other times I felt exhausted by the characters seemingly futile efforts. Ms. George embeds messages of the fragility of life and choosing happiness into this story of love and family. This beautifully written book was hard to read at times, and it has left me thinking of the many forks in the road of my own journey. The Book of Dreams is a thought-provoking, literary gem.
The Book of Dreams was originally released in Germany. The translation is flawless.
About the Author: Born 1973 in Bielefeld, Germany, Nina George is a prize-winning and bestselling author (“Das Lavendelzimmer” – “The Little Paris Bookshop”) and freelance journalist since 1992, who has published 26 books (novels, mysteries and non-fiction) as well as over hundred short stories and more than 600 columns. George has worked as a cop reporter, columnist and managing editor for a wide range of publications, including Hamburger Abendblatt, Die Welt, Der Hamburger, “politik und kultur” as well as TV Movie and Federwelt. Georges writes also under three pen-names, for ex “Jean Bagnol”, a double-andronym for provence-based mystery novels.
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