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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 04-20-17
WWI Family Saga Disappoints
I've heard so many wonderful things about this book that when I finally got around to it in my library I may have had unreasonable expectations. To me the book rambled and wandered and frequently felt completely unreal. The writing was uneven--there were beautiful passages mixed with distant and unfocused or really oddly focused musings.
Further, I agree with another reviewer here in that I think it very unlikely that returning soldiers would retell trench horror stories. My grandfather fought in WWI, survived and would never speak about the war. When asked he would merely say that there were some things best left unsaid. I think that it was culturally unacceptable and improbable that women would be exposed to these war stories.
In the end I found the book so slow and unbelievable that I couldn't continue. Can't recommend.
22 of 26 people found this review helpful
By Terri on 09-25-16
Can not recommend
Excellent performance of a story that goes nowhere slowly. I love history and rarely meet a book that I don't like. My stubborn optimism kept me listening which turned out to be regrettable.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful