By Nancy Bilyeau
Published by Endeavour Quill
What’s it about?
From the blurb:
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.
But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.
But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.
Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.
What I think:
There are bits of this book that I really liked.
The recreation of the Coney Island amusements and the Edwardian hotels is wonderful. There is a real feeling of stepping back in time.
The decadent lifestyle of the millionaires and their lavish 4th July picnic, the hotdogs and delight at the fairground is all brilliant.
Peggy is conflicted as a character and that could explain while I was ambivalent towards her. On the one hand she is rejecting her family’s wealth and status and on the other hand she uses it all the time. She’s independent and working one day and sulking and drinking Coca-Cola in her suite the next. She’s sulky and rude and causes unnecessary arguments with her family.
I preferred her sister, Lydia. She is beautiful and seems to be conforming to society’s expectations, but she is actually more determined and courageous than Peggy.
The male characters are all quite unappealing! They maybe rich and good looking but they are entitled and misogynistic.
I didn’t find myself particularly rooting for any of the characters.
That said, I did enjoy this book. Dreamland is a snapshot of a time and place that’s long gone. It’s atmospheric and vivid and feels like stepping back in time.
Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
Dreamland is out now and available from:
Waterstones: click here
Amazon.co.uk: click here