Friday Fiction – The Dust That Falls From Dreams – Louis De Berniere Book Review

by | Aug 7, 2015

As it is the first Friday of the month, I am opening my Friday Fiction slot to invite other bloggers to link up any fiction and book review posts. This is a great way to find recommendations for what to read and just to enjoy some quality fiction work. I hope you can join me.

I must have inherited my love of reading from my mum because it’s rare that you see her without her nose in a book, or nowadays her kindle. On my visit to see her last week, the pair of us were happy enough in each other’s company to sit and read every night. In fact, I didn’t watch one single programme on TV and I flew through the book I was already reading, getting over halfway on the second one I took up with me.

My summer reading list is a collection of books I got in proof copy format from my local bookshop and writing group. Having been super excited to get Louis De Berniere’s new book, ‘The Dust That Falls From Dreams’ I started with this one. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is one of my all-time favourites and I have to confess that I haven’t read any De Beniere since. However, since we were discussing covers, titles and blurbs at the time I acquired this new book, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the title and I had high hopes for this one. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

Where Captain Corelli was a story I found difficult to get in to (even though I loved it once I did) The Dust That Falls From Dreams captured me from the start. The author has a way of bringing his stories to life, with all the sights, sounds and colours making you feel as though you could be there, watching the proceedings in real life. This story is set pre, during and after the First World War, where Edwardians, still very much influenced by the Victorian period, were thrown in to a situation that would change everything they had ever thought or believed.

The wealthy elite, still living in grand houses with a staff of servants, cooks and butlers, found themselves without staff and having to do things for themselves. The women, accustomed and expected to sit around doing nothing and looking pretty, were taking on the jobs of the men, rolling their sleeves up and getting dirty with the rest of them, all wanting to do their bit for the war effort. There was a general acceptance that nothing would ever be the same again.

Living through this difficult time are a group of friends, former neighbours who once called themselves ‘the pals’, taken from a life of privilege and innocence to one of horror. This is seen from the front line by both the men and woman and back home by the women who learned to nurse the sick and injured. Tragedy and loss escapes no one and by the end of the war, ‘the pals’ are reduced in number and scarred for life. Those who are left must pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives, whilst trying to understand what happened and what it was all for.

I felt that this book gave me a real insight in to Edwardian life, through not only the events, but also the scenery and the individual traits of each character that made them so life like. The war scenes too, are so well researched that you could almost be living through them. One in particular tells of pilot, Daniel, playing about in the skies whilst on his way home from a mission. He becomes separated from the rest of his squadron and so decides to take full advantage of the situation. The details of his flying are such that you could almost get in to that plane and fly it yourself. Then, when he comes across a German pilot, the scene intensifies as Daniel weighs up what to do. The two pilots intend to engage in battle, however, the German pilot encounters a problem with his machine gun. It’s stuck and unable to shoot. Daniel has the advantage, but he decides to fly towards the German pilot and signal for him to surrender. He duly obliges and the pair fly back to base together, with the rest of the squadron there to greet them. There follows and unusual scene of the RAF men shaking hands with the German pilot and posing for photographs with him.

Throughout the book, De Beneriere references back to the time of ‘the pals’. It serves as a reminder that this group of young people once spent time together, playing in their back gardens and imagining that their whole life was ahead of them, full of happiness and opportunity. The reality of what their world became could not have been any different, but it seems that being able to think back to those happy days helped them to get through the worst.

I would definitely recommend this book. Not only is it a heart-warming story, it also serves as a reminder of what life must have been like for those living during the Great War.
As I said above, I’m now reading my second book, which is ‘In Bitter Chill’ by Sarah Ward. This is the first book of a virtual book group, which follows the exact same principle of any book group, except that once you’ve read it, you review and answer discussion questions on line and/or via your blog if you write one. If you would like to join in this book group, please let me know.

Now I invite you to link up your own fiction work and book reviews, using the link below. CLICK ON THIS BLUE LINK AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO ADD YOUR URL.

Nikki Young Writes
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  1. maddy@writingbubble

    I love Captain Corelli’s Mandolin but haven’t read any more of Louis De Berniere’s books – this sounds like a good one to try though. I love the title too! I’ve finished the book club book – let me know when you’ve finished it and we can discuss! x

    • Nicola Young

      It is a good one and I think it will be a big hit. I’m almost finished reading In Bitter Chill. Look forward to hearing what you think.

  2. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    I loved Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, although like you I found it difficult to get in to. It was definitely worth persevering with though. After this write up, I am certainly going to add this one to my reading list x

  3. Eli Pacheco

    What I love about historically-accurate fiction is that it gives life and character to history. Sounds like this book does that! Great review.

    • Nicola Young

      Yes it really does. That’s what I was trying to get across. I feel as though I know so much more about the First World War now.



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