Dreamers of the Day: A Novel

A schoolteacher still reeling from the tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic travels to the Middle East in this memorable and passionate novel

"Marvelous . . . a stirring story of personal awakening set against the background of a crucial moment in modern history."--The Washington Post

Agnes Shanklin, a forty-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio, has come into a modest inheritance that allows her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and the Holy Land. Arriving at the Semiramis Hotel just as the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference convenes, she is freed for the first time from her mother's withering influence and finds herself being wooed by a handsome, mysterious German.

At the same time, Agnes--with her plainspoken American opinions--is drawn into the company of Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence, and Lady Gertrude Bell, who will, in the space of a few days, redraw the world map to create the modern Middle East. As they change history, Agnes too will find her own life transformed forever.

With prose as graceful and effortless as a seductive float down the Nile, Mary Doria Russell illuminates the long, rich history of the Middle East with a story that brilliantly elucidates today's headlines.
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288 pages

Average rating: 7




Community Reviews

Aug 01, 2023
10/10 stars
While reading this book, one is forced to wonder how much it is meant to be a commentary on the current situation in the Middle East. And indeed, the political and historical expositions can be a little heavy-handed. And yet I found these easy to forgive, due mainly to the engaging voice of Agnes, our narrator. She has a very fresh and conversational tone that allows the reader to take in the information without feeling bashed over the head with it. And, I have to say, a lot of the description of how the Middle East was divvied up after WWI was very interesting in light of what's happened since in that region.

Most of the book is just good narrative. Agnes tells us her story as though we were sitting down over a cup of tea, and her conversational tone draws the reader in right away. Her tales of meeting Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), and the others at the Cairo Peace Conference are wonderfully told, and her descriptions of Egypt, Jerusalem, and the other places she visits make them come alive. And of course, the way she tells us about her beloved dachshund Rosie are simply delightful!

I've been a big fan of Mary Doria Russell's books since I discovered them, and this one did not let me down.
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