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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dreamers of the Day

Russell, Mary Doria. Dreamers of the Day.

6 words: Spinster travels to Egypt; homely heroine.

After the 1919 flu epidemic causes the death of her family, Agnes inherits enough money to find a little adventure. With her dachshund Rosie, Agnes bravely travels to Egypt where she meets T.S. Lawrence, Gertrude Bell, and Winston Churchill. Caught up in the intrigue of the Cairo Peace Conference of 1921, Agnes forms and gives her opinions, experiences much of the Egyptian culture and climate, and finds a little romance. She returns a more sophisticated woman.

I loved the Egyptian portion of the book with the insights into Churchill, Lawrence, Bell, and their roles in the nation-building that resulted in the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.

The portion of the book dealing with Agnes' return home has some important historical markers, but is not nearly as fascinating as the Egypt section. Nevertheless, Agnes is an Everywoman who steps outside of her cultural bonds and has a fascinating experience.

While not as good as Thread of Grace, (and Ann noted that it wasn't as good as The Sparrow), I have to say it was a pleasure to read!

Fiction. Historical. 2008. 253 pages.


  1. I really like the sound of this one. I haven't read anything by the author before, but I have heard of her work. Great review, Jenclair.

  2. I love Mary Doria Russell and I really enjoyed this one. It is very different from the Sparrow perhaps not as "deep" but still I was captivated by the book. Churchill wasn't very likable (lol) but besides being entertained I learned something. Yours was a great review.

  3. LF - I loved the Egypt section and found myself doing a little research on Lawrence & Bell.

    Thread of Grace was one of my favorite books the year I read it, and I can recommend it highly -- especially if you have any interest in resistance movements during WWII.

    Janet - I really must read The Sparrow! Russell's historical information in Dreamers was especially interesting given the situations in Iraq and the Middle East.

  4. I've really been wanting to read this - always checked out of my library! I may go read it at Barnes & Noble...

  5. Jenny - I just happened to see it on the New Book Shelf at our library and grabbed it up!