Dreamers of the Day

dreamers

“When it comes down to it, I don’t have much in the way of advice to offer you, but here it is: Read to children. Vote. And never buy anything from a man who’s selling fear.”

I’ve always  been an avid reader, but sometimes, for whatever reason, I just get obsessed.

This week was one of those weeks, as I’ve already ripped through three books and am well into my fourth. My selections are either really good, or my brain is in need of some escapist rest – maybe a bit of both?

I fell in love with Mary Doria Russell through her Sparrow series and am so glad I’ve ventured into her historical fiction.

Historical fiction has long been my favorite genre (although scifi, memoir, fiction, YA, are all up there, too…I LOVE BOOKS), as it blends the poignancy of fiction with hard facts – learning!

Dreamers of the Day takes place in Cairo during the 1921 decision-making process about the structure and form of the Middle East post-WWI.

Besides the name Lawrence of Arabia, I really didn’t know anything about him until this book. The main character, Agnes, loses her entire family to the Influenza epidemic and by result takes a pretty by-the-seat-of-her-pants trip to Egypt.

In a turn of events, namely being white and clueless in 1921 Cairo, Agnes meets all the major players present there during this historic, albeit short, time. Her outsider observations, ruminations and interactions enliven a process that still impacts us all today.

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” ~TE Lawrence

The decisions made by Westerners, no matter how well informed, echo into the conflicts we’ve been embedded in my entire life.

Although I did not really enjoy the twist at the end, the rest of the book more than makes up for this slight oddity. Agnes is a bold and interesting woman, an example of such a unique time in US history, as well as an endearing reflection on self-discovery and the tenuous nature of living.

Plus, her camel-riding description is spot-on. Those things are painful!

me camel

Me and Ferdinand the Dramaderre, Morocco 2009 

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