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Reality and Dreams [Paperback]

Muriel Spark
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Oct 1997
Drifting in and out of consciousness following a dramatic accident on a set, film director Tom Richards pictures the film he wants to make. As his ambition becomes his obsession, he draws his family, lovers and friends into the maelstrom of destruction and turbulent passion.


Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140123105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140123104
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 583,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitably witty 8 Sep 2006
By HORAK
Format:Paperback
Tom Richards is a sixty-three year old film director. He feels like a God up on his crane, shouting orders through his amplifier and, like God, watching the team group and regroup as bidden, especially the stars. So when Tom falls off the crane and breaks twelve ribs as well as his hip, it is quite a tragedy for him.

His new film, Hamburger Girl, is cancelled and then renamed, members of Tom's family vanish then reappear and his life is far from ordinary, something which seems to be the case with most people in the film business.

As Tom says, nothing with him is consistent. It is typical of him and in a way a part of the moves of that world of dreams and reality which he is at home in, the world of filming scenes, casting people in parts, piecing together types, facts and illusions.

At some point Tom says that what he and his crew are doing is real and not real. They live in a world where dreams are reality and reality is dreams. In their world, everything starts from a dream.

A lovely kaleidoscope of witty characters and situations, this novel is thoroughly enjoyable and no doubt shows that the author was still at the top of her form in 1996.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Playing God In Reality & Dreams 13 May 2011
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Tom Richards is lying on his hospital bed `wondering if we were all characters in one of God's dreams' as Muriel Spark's 20th novel `Reality and Dreams' opens. Though of course Tom does believe in many ways that he plays the part of God in his own life and merely watches the people around him and occasionally helping them or not. We meet these people be they simply the nurses who tend to him, his second wife, daughters from both marriages, and his solicitor as they visit his bedside after an accident falling from a crane whilst directing his latest movie.

Making Tom a bedridden character Muriel Spark has created the perfect way of observing all the family dramas which start to unfold as we read on. In particular the lives of his two daughters, Cora the perfect ideal daughter in every way from his first marriage, and Marigold the more rogue and uncontrollable daughter of his second become the focus of Tom's thoughts and therefore the novels, as Cora's marriage fails and Marigold goes missing. Throw into the mix, as Tom recovers and goes back to work, the actress Rose with whom Tom has been having an affair with in his very open marriage and her suggestion that maybe the accident on the crane wasn't quite so accidental and you have two more sinister strands which Spark is so good at.

The title of the book comes into play in many ways as you soon realise that Tom might not be quite the trustworthy narrator you initially assume. Not only does he believe, both on and off the directors chair, that he is really in charge of all that goes on (something he soon needs to question) he merges the real with the world he has created, especially the one of `The Hamburger Girl' his latest movie project and one he seems unnaturally controlling about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Run, Don't Walk, to Get This! 22 Oct 2001
By C. Ebeling - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was an unexpected surprise. I'd read Spark's earliest novels years ago, had only the vague memory that they were enjoyable and well-written. REALITY AND DREAMS is a reminder that Spark is far better than just good. In just 160 pages, she carries off a miracle of imagery, plot twists and character development that swirl about the title's themes and the difficulty that mortals, particularly those engaged in artistic, especially cinematic pursuits, have in distinguishing between the two or understanding how one can beget another. Spark wittily populates her book with a lively, bright ensemble of contemporary British characters whose lives are in one way or another connected with protagonist Tom Richards, a successful movie director. Like most of the characters, he is flawed, but also like most of the characters, there is tension yet some fun in watching him. Appropriate to the theme, Spark creates two films for him to conceive and execute, and such is the power of her vision, they felt real enough that I wanted to see them. She grounds that glamour, however, against the backdrop of contemporary economic realities--redundancy, the British term for unemployment, down-sizing and such becomes a major image and theme as well. Spark's voice is so very truthful throughout, that it is yet another layer of commentary on the relationship between reality and dreams. She can take a bell-clear image, scene or piece of dialogue and make it dense with multiple meaning. Wow! I was very sorry when the book was over.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction as it Should Be Written 26 May 2000
By Alex D. Groce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The most astonishing thing about Muriel Spark (other than how good she is at what she does) is that she does it so sparingly--she never wastes a word. This novel is no exception. As usual, artistry and creation are central themes, but for Spark they are natural themes, and connected to a startling and authoritative view of reality as an artwork, of God as the truly capable artist and artificer. Spark's characters are always deliciously alive, often malicious, always charming or repulsive as need be; Tom is one of Spark's best male characters--appearing in a role often reserved for a possibly autobiographical female character. Read this book, and then hunt down the rest of Muriel Spark's work and enjoy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitably witty 8 Sep 2006
By HORAK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Tom Richards is a sixty-three year old film director. He feels like a God up on his crane, shouting orders through his amplifier and, like God, watching the team group and regroup as bidden, especially the stars. So when Tom falls off the crane and breaks twelve ribs as well as his hip, it is quite a tragedy for him.

His new film, Hamburger Girl, is cancelled and then renamed, members of Tom's family vanish then reappear and his life is far from ordinary, something which seems to be the case with most people in the film business.

As Tom says, nothing with him is consistent. It is typical of him and in a way a part of the moves of that world of dreams and reality which he is at home in, the world of filming scenes, casting people in parts, piecing together types, facts and illusions.

At some point Tom says that what he and his crew are doing is real and not real. They live in a world where dreams are reality and reality is dreams. In their world, everything starts from a dream.

A lovely kaleidoscope of witty characters and situations, this novel is thoroughly enjoyable and no doubt shows that the author was still at the top of her form in 1996.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes fun. 20 Oct 2004
By algo41 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Reality and Dreams reminds me of some of the Faye Weldon novels: it has an edge, and characters who are full of life, but not fully realized. If it is a satire, it is more a satire of human nature than of specific cultural norms, although it does reflect a Britain where the social net has frayed. Reality and Dreams is quite readable and sometimes fun, but it is lightweight, and not all that amusing.
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