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Dreamers of the day : a novel
Mary Doria Russell
Adult Fiction RUSSELL

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Avatar for KaliO KaliO said:
Miss Agnes Shanklin is a spinster schoolteacher in rural Ohio, the plain Jane in her family who is loved but overlooked nonetheless. She’s spent her life quietly obeying her hard-working mother and living vicariously through her sister. But when the Great War and the Great Influenza take her family away from her, Agnes is forced into the spotlight. Leaving her grief behind, Agnes takes her modest inheritance and her cheery little dachshund, Rosie, to Egypt. It’s 1921 and the world is still recovering from all those years of trench warfare, but in Cairo a peace conference is underway. Luminaries like Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell, and “Lawrence of Arabia” are meeting to determine the fate of the Middle East. When Agnes wanders into their midst, her mild manner gives way to a sharp mind that serves as an ideal sounding board for their plans and ideas. Her attention is also drawn to Karl Weilbacher, an affable gentleman who showers Agnes with more kindness than she’s experienced in an entire lifetime. Karl is excessively interested in everything Agnes has to say—particularly when it relates to Churchill, Bell, Lawrence, and the plans of the European diplomats. Author Mary Doria Russell vividly portrays the real personalities who created the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, but it is Agnes, the fictional character who narrates this history, who readers will relate too. Inexperienced but by no means uninformed, Agnes navigates the waters of Egypt’s shifting political intrigues with a sense of wonder and wry intellect that is appealing and intimate.
posted Aug 31, 2010 at 12:45PM
Avatar for EmilyEm EmilyEm said:
Recently wealthy Agnes Shanklin travels to Egypt, just happening to arrive at the time of the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference post-WWI that sets in motion the Middle East and the conflicts we know today. Agnes is fictional but many of the people she comes to know are real people. The engaging memoir-like qualities of late-bloomer Agnes’s finding herself on a journey is simply enjoyable reading. And, you must love dogs! But, there are other messages being conveyed in Russell’s book, those about nation building and meddling in a country’s self determination that she renders well without getting too moralizing about it all!
posted Sep 15, 2011 at 10:03AM
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main characters Agnes Shanklin
Family passed away from the influenza epidemic; settled the family estate; adopted a dachshund named Rosie; traveled to Cairo during a peace conference; became friends with Winston Churchill; fell in love with Karl Weilbacher, a German spy; returned to her hometown where she passed away.

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