It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I am delighted to share with you my review of DREAMLAND. Having read and loved Nancy’s book The Blue I couldn’t wait to start reading this new book which was released January 16th.
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.
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 clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.
A wonderfully researched piece of writing, about women living in a family of wealth, privilege and how their lives were ruled by men, with the etiquette and assumptions of this era’s time.
I felt this book was in some ways similar to the authors last novel, yet a very different read. We have the same strong female role, desperately trying to find a way on her own, without the ties of her family and status but constantly finding hurdles along the way.
However, where I felt it differed, was that this novel’s strengths were more geared towards its characters and social situations as opposed to the plot. The characters really shine through as the different cultures and classes collide in the melting pot of what is Coney Island.
Peggy, our headstrong main character, is whisked from her job at the bookshop, to spend the summer with her family in the hope to secure a marriage proposal for her sister, in a much needed attempt to obtain financial security for the family. Peggy already knows the ‘hopeful husband’ and doesn’t get on with him at all. Once in the hotel Peggy can’t think of anything other than escaping the boredom of pretending to be the obedient daughter and sets off for the wonders of Dreamland!
Here she meets Stefan and her adventure begins!
I really enjoyed the characters and the clashing worlds of the Island and the hotels. The authors research is evident and I learned lots of different things about the area at this time, which had me researching myself!! I love a book that does that!
Peggy’s world is beautifully described with reference to manners, fashion and attitudes of the time that propel the plot along to its conclusion. The way she is treated, as a young woman, by members of her own family and members of the police force had me fuming! Yet when she ventures out to the delights of Coney Island she is yet again greeted with dislike and mistrust as a member of the rich and influential American set. She can’t seem to win. However on meeting Stefan, an artist and worker on the park, she is perhaps finally seen for her real self.
A super read that has you totally engaged from the outset.
Thank you to the publisher for a digital copy of the book.
Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the 18th century thriller “The Blue” and the Tudor mystery series The Crown, The Chalice and The Tapestry. She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada and a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.
Nancy, who studied History and Political Science at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle” and “Rolling Stone,” and is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College in New York City. She is a regular contributor to Town & Country.
“The Crown” was placed on the shortlist of the Crime Writers’ Association’s Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.
Nancy lives with her husband and two children in New York City.