Sunday, 20 February 2011

Book Review: The House of Dust and Dreams by Brenda Reid

Genre:  Historical Fiction
Published by:  Orion Publishing  (June 2010)
Pages:  384  (Paperback)
My Rating:  9/10


About the Book:

Greece 1936 A young British diplomat and his wife have been posted to Athens. Hugh loves the life there but his spirited and unconventional wife, Heavenly, finds it hard to fit into the whirl of endless parties and socialising. When Hugh is sent to Crete to sort out a problem, they stay in a rundown house owned by his family. Heavenly falls in love with the place and the people, and stays on when Hugh returns to his duties. As she tries to rebuild the ramshackle home, Heavenly makes firm friends with Anthi, a young woman from the village and Christos, the handsome and charismatic young builder. But the dark clouds of war are gathering and the island will become a crucible of violence and bloodshed in the days to come. For Heavenly, her friends and family, it will be the greatest test they have ever known.

First Lines:

I first saw the old Orfanoudakis house on a warm, sunlit afternoon, the only sound a lone bullfrog and the cicadas.  The village around it was sleeping.

The chapters alternated between the two women, Heavenly an English lady and Anthi a Cretan.  They met when Heavenly was first exploring the beautiful countryside, she slipped and hurt her ankle and Anthi helped her, they immediately became firm friends, and this friendship was the basis for the story.
The backdrop was the lovely island of Crete and as the years went on and the War came nearer their lives began to change in different ways.
Heavenly was no longer the shy gauche creature who moved awkwardly, she blossomed in the friendliness of the people and gradually became absorbed in village life.
As the Germans gained control in Crete, Brenda Reid didn't shirk from describing the awful situation the inhabitants of the little villages found themselves in as they fought against the enemy.
I really warmed to both Heavenly and Anthi ..... they led two very different lives ...... Heavenly was the privileged wealthy wife of an Ambassador and Anthi was the poor hard-working mother of two young daughters and wife to a cruel husband in a loveless marriage.

Wonderful descriptive writing that was easy to read, the author obviously knows a great deal about Crete and which comes through very strongly throughout the story.

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