Monday, June 21, 2010

Dreamers of the Day

Mary Doria Russell wrote two novels (The Sparrow (sci-fi) and Thread of Grace (historical fiction)) that we've read for book club that I liked a lot.  She's a fan of Walter Miller and wrote a forward for a recent publication of Canticle for Leibowitz.

The premise is absurd.  In 1921, a middle-aged school teacher from Ohio retires and takes a trip to Cairo during the Cairo Peace Conference at which was born Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.  On her first day in Cairo, by happenstance, Agnes meets Lawrence of Arabia, Gertrude Stein and their friends.  She hangs out with them and has a fling (her first ever) with some guy who may or may not be a spy.  I knew this much about it before I began reading and recognized the ridiculousness of the premise, but I thought that Mary Doria Russell was so supremely skilled that she could make a believable story out of this.  Alas, no.

Update:  One more thing.  Agnes meets Lawrence because her dog causes a stir at the hotel.  She meets the maybe-spy when he comments on her dog.  Obvious plot device is obvious.

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