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The House of Dust and Dreams [Paperback]

Brenda Reid
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Jun 2010

Greece 1936

A young British diplomat and his wife have been posted to Athens. Hugh loves the life there but his spirited and unconventional wife, Heavenly, finds it hard to fit into the whirl of endless parties and socialising.

When Hugh is sent to Crete to sort out a problem, they stay in a rundown house owned by his family. Heavenly falls in love with the place and the people, and stays on when Hugh returns to his duties. As she tries to rebuild the ramshackle home, Heavenly makes firm friends with Anthi, a young woman from the village and Christos, the handsome and charismatic young builder.

But the dark clouds of war are gathering and the island will become a crucible of violence and bloodshed in the days to come. For Heavenly, her friends and family, it will be the greatest test they have ever known.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (10 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409114716
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409114710
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"An interesting story." --"San Francisco Book Review" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A house in ruins. An island at war. A love affair just beginning...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dust and Dreams and a Diamond read 12 Jun 2010
By Caramia
Brenda Reid's House of Dust and dreams is beautifully written and so atmospheric one can almost feel the heat of Crete beating down on one's back.

Set in 1936, it tells the story of Heavenly who, when her diplomat husband is posted to Athens, finds the endless rounds of parties and social events all a bit stifling and shallow. Hugh's family own an old tumbledown house on Crete and when he goes there to sort out a problem, Heavenly goes with him - and doesn't come back - because she falls utterly and irrevocably in love with the place. She rapidly makes friends with Anthi, a young local woman who helps her find her way around Cretan society. Anthi, herself, is a strong woman, mother to two daughters, unhappy in her marriage, but inescapably trapped by its conventions. Heavenly sets about restoring the house, although Hugh would much prefer her to come back to Athens. Enter Christos, a young handsome builder - Cretes answer to Heathcliff and the stage is set for some complicated emotions. But dark times lie ahead with war on the horizon and Heavenly's haven comes under serious threat which tests her, Anthi and Christos in ways they could never even have imagined.

Brenda Reid writes with real passion and emotion. The characters are wonderfully drawn, living and breathing. I found myself really caring about them and, by the end of the book, also desperately wanting to visit Crete.

Anyone who likes Anita Shreve and Victoria Hislop would do well to read this book. It won't disappoint. I am greatly looking forward to Brenda's follow up book.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The House of Dust and Dreams 4 July 2010
A beautifully written love story by an author with an obvious intimate knowledge of Crete and it's people. The untold story of Crete's world war two resistance to invasion by both Germany and Italy. The descriptive writing conjours up the very scents, sounds and heat of the hard and simple existance of mediterranean village life in that era. One of the best novels I have read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 13 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Based on all the positive feedback this book has I decided to try it for myself. I must admit I was rather dissapointed. I found the first half of the story incredibly slow and tedious, it only started to pick up in the second half.

I found some parts of the story quite improbable, for instance it would have been quite unnusual in the 1930's for a devoted husband to leave his wife alone on a remote island for so long. And why didn't be even come to visit her from Athens, it was only a boat journey away? Surely any normal husband would have given up a few Embassy banquets and parties just to reassure himself that his wife was safe? Especially as he was supposed to miss her so!

However, the romance between Evadne and Christo was quite touching. At least this was not a sickly sweet love affair, Christo did not come across as the usual stereotype as the majority of books of this genre. An interesting finish, quite a sad story even though it was rather unrealistic.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At the start this book looked promising - romance, Crete, ancient village house to renovate, war - lots of good strong ingredients! The story is told by two narrators, Evadne, a British diplomat's wife, and Anthi, a Cretan farmer's wife.

When the book starts it is the summer of 1936 and Hugh and Evadne arrive on Crete for their honeymoon, two years after their marriage. Hugh is a diplomat based in Athens, so they both speak Greek. A relation of Hugh's (at some points great uncle, grandfather or great grandfather, it isn't totally clear) had married a Greek heiress and they had owned a house on Crete which had come to Hugh. It is nearly derelict. Hugh loathes it and Evadne falls in love with it.

Then we flash back to their romance and marriage which run along fairly well worn tracks (she a nurse, he a golden haired godlike toff who falls in love with and "rescues" her) but there was sufficient originality to keep the momentum going.

We are back in 1936 and we see the world through Anthi's eyes with lots of details about Cretan life whose authenticity I am not qualified to comment on. Evadne takes up the story again and we find that Hugh has agreed that she can stay in Crete to renovate the house while he returns to Athens. At this point she tells us about Hugh's impotency problems in a fair amount of detail, but whatever marital difficulties they had, I do not believe that at that time and in that political situation, Evadne would have been allowed to stay in Crete on her own for any length of time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trip to Crete 28 July 2010
What a wonderful book this is. You can almost smell the air in Crete. I took a week to read it, slowing down towards the end as I really didn't want it to end! The characters are utterly real and their situations both painfully and joyfully believable. It is a lovely story with some very interesting historical facts within it, as well as beautiful descriptions of scenery and dilema. Brenda Reid's style is easy to read and charming and I look forward to the follow up with great enthusiasm.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Coudn't put it dawn I loved it
Published 24 days ago by Dancing
4.0 out of 5 stars War Torn
A fascinating read and the research into the history of the island during the war made it much more than a love story.
Published 3 months ago by P. TURNER
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read.
I loved this book, it was so touching looking into different lives from different cultures! I felt that I was almost there in Crete with them, sharing their tragedies and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Janice Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab read
Loved this book. Super. The story was good, and as I!m in love with Greece anyway it was super, a must have for Greek fans
Published 6 months ago by M. Shipley
5.0 out of 5 stars A warming story
A lovely, warming story with lots of information regarding the problems running up to and including the second world war for the people of Crete
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. Hopefull
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant read!
It's a cold, wet winter day & you want something light to read that will transport you to warmer climes - then this is the book to read. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Norma Upfold
5.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD READ
A good price for an excellent read - it has done the rounds of young and old in our family and been enjoyed by all.
Published 8 months ago by HSBC
5.0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS!!!!!
Published 9 months ago by READERS IN THE SUN
3.0 out of 5 stars not as gripping as i would have liked!
this book was ok, but as I read I was always waiting for the gripping ,exciting part to come...... it never did! Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lesley-Kent
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Couldn't put it down, disappointed when the end after holidaying in crete felt like you were living the story. Super
Published 12 months ago by D D
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