Another great book. With circus workers as a backdrop, you get to explore a whole time period that really wasn't that far ago. The characterization is amazing and you will remember all of the characters long after you put this book down. I really loved this book and I strongly recommend it.
Kevin Baker's Dreamland is the kind of novel that begins with a two-page list of characters and ends with a nine-page glossary. In between, this vast, sprawling carnival of a book takes in Coney Island and the Lower East Side, midgets and gangsters, Bowery bars and opium dens, even Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. It is, in short, a novel as big, lively, and ambitious as Gotham itself, and if you can stomach some of the more garish local color, it's every bit as much fun.
I really enjoy Kevin Baker and Paradise Alley is one of my favorite books, but this one just didn't grab me the same way. It was very well written and quite an interesting story, but I could put it down for a few days and come back to it without feeling like I had to finish right away. Still quite a good book that I would recommend, but if you are a fan of some of his others, this one might not be your favorite.
Kevin Baker tells the story of New York City at the turn of the century in a gritty, grotesque, unapologetic manner creating characters that we care about deeply that stay with us long after the book is done. Is is a love story, a life story, a death story? You see Coney Island's Dreamland, the immigrant's experiences, and the gangsters impossible lifestyles jumping from the perspective of one character to the next. Being a New Yorker born and bred it broke my heart, and held my hand while I wept. Highly Recommend...
Great Historical Fiction. Story surrounds Coney Island in his hayday and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
A huge, sprawling historical novel, great characters, a perfect novel to escape into.
I really wanted to like this circus-oriented tale, thinking it would be something like "Water for Elephants". Unfortunately, there was so much animal killing and abuse detailed in the first few pages that I could not continue.
Really awesome historical fiction about Coney Island and New York at the turn of the century. Plus a good love story to boot. I was a little sad at the ending, and left wanting more. The characters make you turn the pages and the story captures your imagination. Worth a look!
I've had this book on my shelf for several years and just now got around to reading it. When the book first came out in 1999, I read a review of it in the Washington Post and put it on my wish list then. I eventually found a paperback copy and I'm sorry I didn't delve into this fascinating novel sooner. The novel takes place around 1910 in New York City and Coney Island. It's a long sprawling story of Coney Island freaks, New York gangs, prostitutes, politicians, cops, Jewish immigrants, sweatshop workers, and the other myriad social classes that inhabited New York at the time. The book goes into details of the brutality and cruelty of life in the slums and the day-to-day existence of the people. This includes cruelty to both people and animals - some of this is really hard to read. It tells of the horrible 14-hour drudgery of women working in sweatshops sewing shirtwaists, the awful living conditions of the common people being crammed into small tenements and renters buying shifts to sleep in a spare bed, and it details the life of the dwarfs and other side-show freaks who populated Coney Island. This is a must read if you are interested in New York City history and life during the early 1900s. High recommendation!
I enjoyed this book. If you like historical fiction this is a nice read. It details life in New York and Coney Island around the early 1900's
Cited as one of the 10 Best Books of 1999 by the Christian Science Monitor, and New York Times Notable Book of 1999. I found this an extraordinarily riveting story with some unlikely characters. With locations as wonderful as you can imagine, this book takes you on a delightful journey.
Lots of 20th century slang. It did not capture me..I was not able to finish it.
I was very excited to read this book but unfortunately was unable to finish it. I did not find it to be interesting at all! I have tried reading it several times and each time I gave up before finishing the first few chapters.