From the acclaimed author of Corelli's Mandolin, here is a sumptuous, sweeping, powerfully moving new novel about a British family whose lives and loves are indelibly shaped by the horrors of World War I and the hopes for its aftermath.
In the brief, golden years of the Edwardian era, the McCosh sisters - Christabel, Ottilie, Rosie, and Sophie - grow up in an idyllic household in the countryside south of London. On one side their neighbors are the proper Pendennis family, recently arrived from Baltimore, whose close-in-age boys - Sidney, Albert, and Ashbridge - shake their father's hand at breakfast and address him as "sir". On the other side is the Pitt family: a "resolutely French" mother, a former navy captain father, and two brothers, Archie and Daniel, who are clearly "going to grow up into a pair of daredevils and adventurers". In childhood this band is inseparable, but the days of careless camaraderie are brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of The Great War, in which everyone will play a part.
All three Pendennis brothers fight in the hellish trenches at the front; Daniel Pitt becomes an ace fighter pilot with his daredevil tendencies intact; Rosie and Ottilie McCosh volunteer in the hospitals, where women serve with as much passion and nearly as much hardship as the men at the front; Christabel McCosh becomes one of the squad of photographers sending "snaps" of their loved ones at home to the soldiers; and Sophie McCosh drives for the RAF in France. In the aftermath of the war, as "the universal joy and relief were beginning to be tempered by...an atmosphere of uncertainty", everyone must contend with the modern world that is slowly emerging from the ashes of the old.
A wholly immersive novel about a particular time and place, The Dust That Falls from Dreams also illuminates the timeless ways in which men and women carry profound loss alongside indelible hope.
"A very complex and moving evocation of the war." (Alex Clark, The Guardian)
"The Dust that Falls from Dreams will no doubt be a hit with millions of fans worldwide.... De Bernieres is adept at describing how lives can be devastated in minutes." (Leyla Sanai, The Independent )
"A sweeping historical epic of love and war, one that matches Birds Without Wings and his career-high best seller Corelli's Mandolin for sheer breadth, storytelling, and emotional intensity." (Malcolm Forbes, The National)
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As good as it gets!
- Jon Crawfurd
WWI-era family saga done right!
Off the top of my head, I'd have to say that I love the detail that the author has put into each character, resulting in a book of quite some length (I adore the long read!). Each character is distinctly created, even the least, such as a house maid.
I am a fan of the era, and greatly appreciate the time the author took to create a story about pre-war England, going into post-war England. I must confess that I had moments of disbelief, particularly when returning veterans of "the war to end all wars" explained, in great detail, the horrors of the trenches and the skies over France to the primary women characters. I can't get my husband to say anything about Vietnam, so it seems highly unlikely that ladies of the times would be exposed to such tales.
Having said that, I'm glad the details are in the book and think the author did it with great creativity and at least made sure such scenes were true to the characters.
I should also mention that this book has very serious sections with very serious characters--and then, just as one family has many different members--the book will veer off into a hilarious scene with the delightful Sophie, a Mort Saul-type character who cleverly plays with words. The narration featuring Sophie is spot-on, and I found myself smiling, even laughing.
All in all, a very satisfying addition to the WWI family saga. I'd put this book nicely next to my most coveted Pat Barker books, as well as the two-volume Louisa Young books, "My Dear,, I Wanted to Tell You" and "The Hero's Welcome." Fans of Anthony Doer's "All the Light We Cannot See" will also get a lot out of this story.
Oh, you must love Rosie and Daniel, the true protagonists, but Sophie, the bubbly, deceptively "dumb" sister, and her husband are absolutely wonderful characters. Sophie brings a little of a Rhys Bowen whimsy to the table.
Each narrator made this book and its myriad, complex characters to life. They both "made" this listen!
I just think this is a really good, solid partner to the above-mentioned novels about this era. I will read/listen again in a few years.
If you like Downtown Abbey, and would like to read a family sage that deeply delves into love, loss, and loyalty, you will like this book tremndously.
- Annie M. "Say something about yourself!"