For Jeff Johnson, a young historical researcher for a Civil War novelist, reality is redefined when he meets Annie, an intense and lovely young woman suffering from vivid, intense nightmares. Haunted by the dreamer and her unrelenting dreams, Jeff leads Annie on an emotional odyssey through the heartland of the Civil War in search of a cure. On long-silenced battle fields their relationship blossoms--two obsessed lovers linked by unbreakable chains of history, torn by a duty that could destroy them both.
It is extremely hard to classify this book, as it works (and works very well) on many different levels. It is a love story, a synopsis of the American Civil War including a quick tour of the Civil War battlefields, an investigation into obsessive behavior vs practical action, a mystery with clues scattered hither an yon for the reader to discover . . .
Try it; you'll like it!
Willis' first novel; won the John W. Campbell award.
Jeff is a research assistant to an historical novelist. The novelist, Broun, has just barely finished a book on the Civil War, and thinks his next book will be about Abraham Lincoln. He is somewhat fixated on analyzing Lincoln's dreams to try to gain insight into the man. So he invites Jeff's old college roommate, Richard, a dream researcher and physician, to a reception. Reluctantly, Richard shows up... with a young woman, Annie, in tow. Jeff is immediately drawn to Annie, but can tell something is wrong - she seems upset, and the dynamic between Annie and Richard is odd. He suspects his old friend may be exploiting a patient... When Annie tells him of the odd dreams that have been plaguing her, things get even stranger - because all the historical details are correct... and from the viewpoint of Robert E. Lee, during the Civil War.
This is really a great book... though emotionally harrowing, and not at all funny, as some of Willis' later works are. Great use of literary parallelism - with the plot of one of Broun's novels, historical details of the Civil War, and 'current' events all reflecting off each other... themes of the book are duty and love...
I have definitely become a big fan of Willis' work!
If you like to read about Civil War history, you'll like this book. Despite the description, this is not a love story and it's more about Lee's dreams than Lincoln's. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but, while well-written, this one just didn't do it for me. It's like the author wanted to make a book out of all the little details that no one really ever remembers and don't really matter in the larger picture.
They are intriguing questions: Where do our dreams come from? Do they have any significance in the waking world? Why do we dream about such inexplicable things? The characters in this book are caught up in these questions, looking back even as far as the Civil War to find answers for their own lives. It's a thought-provoking book and a good story, filled with tidbits of history and human psychology, and marred for me only by a slightly muddled ending.
Early work by Connie Willis. It's not her best, but definitely worth reading if you like her books.
Surprising novel that weaves together history, medicine, psychology, and veterinary medicine into an unusual plot.
Another gripping tale from Connie Willis, part history, part fantasy.
I found this one to be quite fascinating. It's really about a young woman, Annie, who is dreaming Robert E. Lee's dreams not Lincoln's dreams as the title would imply. Annie is accompanied by a researcher who is looking for clues to Lincoln's dreams for the Civil War author he works for. Anyway, Annie dreams her way through the major battles of the Civil War including Antietam and Gettysburg from Lee's perspective. Willis did a great job researching her subject matter with this novel providing many details of the Civil War that I was unaware of. I would recommend this and now I need to read more about Lee and the Civil War as well as other works by Willis.
Connie Willis is one of the funniest and most humane SF writers alive. This is one of her earliest and best books.
I enjoyed the history part of the book, but the ending surprised me. A good read.
Willis' research into the American Civil War was impecable. I've read ahundred civil war books, and even I didn't know that the numbers on graves in Civvil War cemeteries is a record of the number of bones in that grave! Willis brilliantly used this clever story to highlight just how horrible the war was, and how romantic we have rendered it in order to make it more palatable today. A truly superior writer.
If you like books that you not only enjoy but that you also learn something, this book is for you. It is loosely historical fiction that weaves fact and the fantastic and it ultimately a very satisfying read.