The Book of Dreams

The Book of Dreams

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the...

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Title:The Book of Dreams
Author:Nina George
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Book of Dreams Reviews

  • Larry H

    Powerful, moving, and poetic, Nina George's newest novel,

    , is absolutely exquisite. It's so different from other books I've read recently, and it is one I won't soon forget.

    "Maybe we're all stories that someone is reading, and maybe that will save us before we ultimately expire?"

    Henri Skinner was once a renowned war reporter whose eyes have seen first-hand the horrors of our world. Shaped by tragedy at an early age, he is a passionate person, one prone to acting before he

    Powerful, moving, and poetic, Nina George's newest novel,

    , is absolutely exquisite. It's so different from other books I've read recently, and it is one I won't soon forget.

    "Maybe we're all stories that someone is reading, and maybe that will save us before we ultimately expire?"

    Henri Skinner was once a renowned war reporter whose eyes have seen first-hand the horrors of our world. Shaped by tragedy at an early age, he is a passionate person, one prone to acting before he thinks. On his way to see his teenage son for the first time since he was an infant, he performs a heroic act, only to be struck by a car afterward. He now lies deep in a coma, hearing the voices of those he loves but also reliving his life's memories, as well as exploring the paths not taken.

    Sam, Henri's son, is a highly intellectual synesthete (he sees sounds as colors and numbers as sounds) who has dreamed of having his father in his life for as long as he can remember, only to be told by his mother that his father wasn't the type to depend on. When he learns of his father's accident he begins a daily vigil at Henri's bedside. Even though the doctors say they see no sign of Henri's sensing what is going on around him, Sam believes his father hasn't given up yet, and implores him to return to consciousness.

    While at the hospital, Sam meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman who was once deeply in love with Henri until he cruelly hurt her. She's moved on with her life but Henri had named her the executor of his living will, so she now must confront her feelings for this man to whom she once gave her entire heart. Eddie isn't sure if she wants Henri to awaken or if she is ready to say goodbye once and for all.

    Another patient at the hospital is 12-year-old Madelyn, who has been in a coma since she was in a car accident that killed her entire family. Even though she cannot communicate, does not give any sign that she hears or feels or sees, the hospital continues to treat her, this poor young girl without anyone to look after her. Sam is taken with Maddie, and does everything he can to try and help her back to consciousness, as he tries to do the same for his father.

    "There are places where time is thinner, where yesterday, today, and tomorrow converge and we can feel the presence of the dead and the echo of the future."

    is about the thin line between life and death, of how keeping a person alive is often more for ourselves than the actual person. It's a book about love—both its presence and its absence—and how both can consume you. But more than that, this is a book about relationships, about finding the courage to act, to say the things you've always wanted, to never let regret occupy your mind.

    This book is gorgeously written, brimming with vivid imagery and emotion. At times it gets a little confusing, as you're not sure what has happened and what is being dreamed, but the power of this book overcame any of its flaws where I was concerned. In a few days it will be five years since my father died suddenly, and this book, felt a bit like a gift for me, despite how difficult it was to read at times.

    I haven't read any of George's other books, but she said in her afterword that her last three novels,

    , and this one form a cycle of novels about mortality and are colored by existential questions about death. I'm definitely going to have to pick her other books up, because this really touched me. It was both a beautifully written and a beautifully felt book.

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  • Karen Rush

    A heart-tugging story of devotion and hope. Nina George has created beautiful characters and compelling relational dynamics. I especially loved Sam, an extraordinary boy who is astute beyond his years. I wanted to give him a giant bear hug and make his dreams come true.

    George excelled at putting her thoughts to paper, especially as they relate to Sam’s journey to find peace and love and Henri’s alternating states of awareness as he remained trapped between two worlds. A profound and

    A heart-tugging story of devotion and hope. Nina George has created beautiful characters and compelling relational dynamics. I especially loved Sam, an extraordinary boy who is astute beyond his years. I wanted to give him a giant bear hug and make his dreams come true.

    George excelled at putting her thoughts to paper, especially as they relate to Sam’s journey to find peace and love and Henri’s alternating states of awareness as he remained trapped between two worlds. A profound and thought-provoking read that I couldn't put down. Read it in two days.

  • Betsy Robinson

    I loved this book and I have no idea how to convey why. It deals in the spaces between so-called reality that we all share, but not all of us know it. And it deals with places that are possibly just as real that we only traverse alone.

    If you can accept the profundity of the simple lyrics “Row, row, your boat, gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream” and are comfortable with this notion, you will understand and appreciate this book of dreams. It takes the

    I loved this book and I have no idea how to convey why. It deals in the spaces between so-called reality that we all share, but not all of us know it. And it deals with places that are possibly just as real that we only traverse alone.

    If you can accept the profundity of the simple lyrics “Row, row, your boat, gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream” and are comfortable with this notion, you will understand and appreciate this book of dreams. It takes the reader through the tears in our so-called reality and explores what life and death are.

    Rather than go on metaphysically and possibly incomprehensibly (for people who are not attuned to this kind of material), I’ll trust Nina George to explain—from her afterword:

    For me, it has always existed. And I cannot wait to read her earlier books.

    There are real people, love, and a wonderful, heartbreaking, romantic love story in this book, but I haven’t the patience to get into it. Suffice it to say I found the whole thing exquisite and I took it in like a hungry suckling baby.

  • Paromjit

    Whilst The Book of Dreams by Nina George is not perfect, there is nevertheless much to love about this profoundly moving novel about what it is to be human and just how much momentous decisions define the life path for a person. In this complex and complicated book of family drama, relationships and human emotions, ex-war reporter, Henry Skinner, is on his way to meet his estranged teenage son, Sam, when he finds himself saving the life of a young girl in the River Thames. Unfortunately the most

    Whilst The Book of Dreams by Nina George is not perfect, there is nevertheless much to love about this profoundly moving novel about what it is to be human and just how much momentous decisions define the life path for a person. In this complex and complicated book of family drama, relationships and human emotions, ex-war reporter, Henry Skinner, is on his way to meet his estranged teenage son, Sam, when he finds himself saving the life of a young girl in the River Thames. Unfortunately the most hellish misfortune has Henry hit by a car, and knocked unconscious and into a coma.

    Henry is in the intensive care unit of a London hospital where the neurologist is referred to as God. 13 year old Sam has the unusual gift of synaesthesia, meaning he is aware and can sense what others cannot. As he sits by his father's bedside, he is joined by an ex-love of Henry's, the heartbroken Eddie Tomlin, and finds himself beginning to connect with a 12 year old girl, another patient in a coma in the unit. Henry, a man with secrets, finds himself reliving aspects of his life and childhood in his dreams, including his relationships with Marie-France, Sam's mother, and Eddie, but one where different choices and decisions are made and their outcome. In a story where the four characters begin to connect, George utilises the concept of a coma about which relatively little is known to explore the different levels of consciousness, the nature of father and son relationships, love, loss and compassion.

    Writing in beautiful prose, Nina George asks the deepest questions about life amidst the oppressive background of hospital routines and lives hanging in the balance. The fragility of life is at the heart of this emotional drama, the need to not allow fear to determine life choices, and to truly live as opposed to sleepwalk through life. Whilst I really loved reading this novel, there were occasions for me when I found the storytelling a little too uneven. A marvellously thought provoking read with great characterisation that made the central themes come alive brilliantly in the narrative. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for an ARC.

  • Katie B

    I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is the type of book I will be thinking about for awhile. I think the author really took a chance with this one and maybe it won't be for everyone, but I'm pretty darn glad I read it.

    The story in some ways is a bit tricky to explain without getting into spoiler territory so I'm gonna keep it brief and simple. The less you know is probably best in this case. Henri Skinner is set

    I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is the type of book I will be thinking about for awhile. I think the author really took a chance with this one and maybe it won't be for everyone, but I'm pretty darn glad I read it.

    The story in some ways is a bit tricky to explain without getting into spoiler territory so I'm gonna keep it brief and simple. The less you know is probably best in this case. Henri Skinner is set to see his teenage son, Sam, for the first time in years when he is rushed to the hospital after being involved in a traffic accident. Henri's former girlfriend, Eddie, and Sam stick close to Henri's hospital bed as he is in a coma. The book is told from the alternating perspectives of Eddie, Sam, and Henri. Yes, you read that right, you will get to know the man in the coma quite well.

    I wasn't prepared for how much this would hit me on an emotional and spiritual level. Now I'll admit some of what the author was trying to express might have gone over my head, but what I did get, I loved. It was truly a treat to read a book in which the author was willing to go out on a limb and write a book that might not be "market friendly". I love when authors are willing to take chances and just go for it in order to tell the story they want and I appreciate when publishers give them the opportunity to do this as well. Such a great read and I look forward to checking out the author's other novels.

    Read this book if you are up for the challenge that it might be a high risk, but high reward type read.

    Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I’m a fan of Nina George’s Little Paris Bookshop, and I noticed right away that her trademark warmth imbued on every page of The Book of Dreams.

    Henri Skinner, one of our main characters, is a former war reporter. He’s rough around the edges, and the war has shaped him. He’s going to visit his son, Sam, who he doesn’t really know.

    While literally on his way to see his son, he is injured and rushed to the hospital. While there, he is

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    I’m a fan of Nina George’s Little Paris Bookshop, and I noticed right away that her trademark warmth imbued on every page of The Book of Dreams.

    Henri Skinner, one of our main characters, is a former war reporter. He’s rough around the edges, and the war has shaped him. He’s going to visit his son, Sam, who he doesn’t really know.

    While literally on his way to see his son, he is injured and rushed to the hospital. While there, he is comatose and vividly dreaming about the secrets of his past.

    Sam, Henri’s son, is a gifted thirteen-year-old, and he sits by Henri every day at the hospital. It’s there that Eddie Tomlin arrives, a woman who has loved Henri for many years. Also at the hospital is Madelyn, a twelve-year-old who is also in a coma. She has survived an accident that killed every member of her family.

    Each character is dreaming of hope and fighting for life in their own way, and together, they are bonded by these wistful wants.

    Gosh, The Book of Dreams gave me so much to think about. First, it had me feeling deeply for its characters, and then it transferred to real life, as the story became so earnest, it felt real and luminescent.

    The Book of Dreams is deeply emotional and soaringly rewarding. I cried until I felt that ache in my chest. I had the hardest time letting go of this story and turning the last page. There is sadness, loss, and tragedy here, as is hope.

    Lyrical writing, deep meaning, heartbreaking, powerful, and profound, The Book of Dreams taught me about “just being” versus “truly living” among many other life lessons, and I am ever so grateful this book was in my hands and is now in my heart.

    I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Cheri

    4.5 Stars

    Henri Skinner, a man who was once-upon-a-time a war reporter, has just jumped off the Hammersmith Bridge as this story begins, desperate to save the life of a young girl who had fallen overboard.

    But Henri wins this time. It is only after he is on land, carrying this girl to safety that he begins to worry about being late to get to the school where his

    4.5 Stars

    Henri Skinner, a man who was once-upon-a-time a war reporter, has just jumped off the Hammersmith Bridge as this story begins, desperate to save the life of a young girl who had fallen overboard.

    But Henri wins this time. It is only after he is on land, carrying this girl to safety that he begins to worry about being late to get to the school where his son, Sam, is waiting for him. It will be the first time that they’ve really seen each other. Feeling weak after putting the girl down, he stumbles out into the road. The girl screams as a car sweeps him off his feet and into the air.

    Sam is an unusual boy, gifted with a Mensa IQ, he is also a synesthete - what he sees, feels, hears sometimes translates into something else. Numbers, sounds, voices, and music he sees in colours. Letters he associated with personality traits.

    The story is shared between the voices of Sam, Henri and a woman named Eddie Tomlin, who once was in love with Henri, until he broke her heart, and how they weave together. We hear the story of how Sam came to be, the story of Henri’s brief relationship with Sam’s mother, Marie-France, the story of a fishing expedition that still stays with him, and his regrets over some things that were said.

    When Sam finds out that his father is in the hospital, and the time of the accident, he realizes it means Henri didn’t intentionally miss the father-son event at Sam’s school. With that, he is determined to finally spend some time with this man who is his father, a man he doesn’t really know. He knows his mother won’t approve, and so he goes without her consent, where he meets Eddie, and also eventually meets an eleven-year-old girl, Madelyn, Maddie, who is also in a coma, like his father. Maddie’s family were all killed in a car accident, she is the only one who lived. His sensory overlap allows him to see, feel Maddie on a level that escapes others, Sam makes it his mission to try to find a way to reach her, and draw her out of her coma.

    Raising many questions about the spaces between life and death, the various conditions of existence that we encounter between our first and last breaths, and whether or not we fully understand what those limits are, the purpose of our lives, this can be thought-provoking, without straying too far into the “woo-woo” category.

    With writing that I found both lyrical and profound, and a story that was both powerful and endearing, I loved this story from the start.

    Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

  • Terry Mitchell

    Henri Skinner has been left in a coma in this novel, which with rich detail raises the question of 'What happens to us when we're in between life and death?' Sam, the son whom he's never met and Eddie, the lost love of his life, are the two unique, real-as-life characters who visit him at his bedside every day for 46 days. While visiting his father one day, Sam incidentally ends up in Madelyn's room. She's a girl who is also in a coma, but Sam is a synesthete, and something about her draws him

    Henri Skinner has been left in a coma in this novel, which with rich detail raises the question of 'What happens to us when we're in between life and death?' Sam, the son whom he's never met and Eddie, the lost love of his life, are the two unique, real-as-life characters who visit him at his bedside every day for 46 days. While visiting his father one day, Sam incidentally ends up in Madelyn's room. She's a girl who is also in a coma, but Sam is a synesthete, and something about her draws him to her, an inexplicable first love.

    The reader can't help but root for the best possible outcome as he/she works his/her way through the pages of this very moving book. And… yet…. I can't quite put my finger on it… it just falls a bit flat. Perhaps Nina George is trying to accomplish too much with this work. However, it does certainly accomplish much. I could practically see all the different possible life threads as Henri tried to make his way back; as to say the smallest of decisions can change one's life completely.

    I liked this book and was appropriately moved, as I think most people who read this book will be. Whatever was missing or perhaps overdone seems to be something intangible. After much thought on it, I can't pin it down. This was a 3.5 for me, rounded up to 4; there were times I did not want to put it down at all, but there were also moments I could have cried in frustration. Perhaps I was empathizing with Henri in his attempts to express himself when nearer the 'surface.' The story raises interesting questions in a moving way, and I'd happily recommend this book to those who wonder about the 'in-between'.

  • Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    The ripples of tragedies were too sensory overloaded for me.

    So, while I was engaged in the story from the start, I was grappling with the believability chain-

    -of events as well.

    With several mishaps - right away - they didn’t feel authentically believable to me....but...

    ok, I went with it.

    I appreciated the concept of this book - ( especially the authors personal connection to this novel - with her own father’s death ), but I honestly wasn’t drawn to reading it until recently when my friend,

    The ripples of tragedies were too sensory overloaded for me.

    So, while I was engaged in the story from the start, I was grappling with the believability chain-

    -of events as well.

    With several mishaps - right away - they didn’t feel authentically believable to me....but...

    ok, I went with it.

    I appreciated the concept of this book - ( especially the authors personal connection to this novel - with her own father’s death ), but I honestly wasn’t drawn to reading it until recently when my friend, verbally told me how much she loved it.

    So... I gave it a go - having loved “The Little Paris Bookshop”, by Nina George.

    The primary theme the author explores is the border between life and death....a powerful theme to contemplate.

    There are parts in this book that were compelling to think about.

    This excerpt is one them:

    “How must they feel, all the people whose beloved lies in a coma? Do they remain ‘faithful’ in the most innocent sense of the word? Do they long for sex, the touch of skin, laughter, shared moments when life is full and sweet? Or do they die, a little at a time, because they no longer there to live? Do they abandon their lives completely and devote themselves entirely to caring and comforting? Or do they conserve some of their energy for themselves?”.

    I wondered about this as a young adult when my mother told me that my dad spent his entire first year of their marriage in the hospital in San Francisco. He had tuberculosis. I wondered how my mother dealt with these issues once I was old enough to understand a little bit more about life.

    It was also easy to imagine the unbearable tension in the hospital each day.

    “There are so many intense emotions in every bed in the ward. One person has gotten lost in a very dangerous place, another is hounded by mortal dread, and yet another patient is running a fever. I sense fatigue and tension, as if there were taut strings and elastic bands crisscrossing the room. Concerns, aches, and fear”.

    And the gut reality of physically being in a coma.

    “A catheter is hidden under Maddie’s nightie and tracksuit bottoms, and two tubes are connected to her index finger. There is a vial of eyedrops on the table next to her. Further dropper bottles on the table by the door contain other medicines. There are machines by her bed, monitoring the oxygen and her blood and her heartbeat on a constant basis. She is obviously fed through a tube that vanishes into her skin next to her collarbone. Another tube protrudes from her neck; it’s hooked up to the ventilator”.

    But...the lines between reality and fantasy ... conscious and subconscious- the different remembering‘s and retellings: the dreams themselves put me into a comatose state myself. It was a little bland and confusing.

    The side stories felt odd to and unrealistic that my own emotions never got off the ground.

    This book was much more cerebral in thought than it was emotional for me.

    2.7 stars ... I appreciate the premises- and purpose for this novel - with much respect for Nina George - but overall I had too many conflicted feelings about the storytelling itself.

    I had limitations with just how much I could transcend this human experience with my own heart.

  • Kylie D

    A beautifully written book, richly metaphorical, about hovering in the space between life and death. It follows Henri, in a coma after an accident, and how he tries to interact with his loved ones and they in turn with him. Poignant and profound, we explore the feelings of loss, hope and grief, all at once.

    Yet, even though I can appreciate the beauty of this book, it really wasn't for me.

    My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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