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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inimitably witty, 8 Sep 2006
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Reality and Dreams (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
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Reality and Dreams (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.
Spark sets stories and characters up that wouldn't normally ring true and makes them vivid, comical and dark - all in all fully fleshed creations in a world where the real and the dreamlike often merge and separate leaving the reader to decide which they believe in and which reality they indeed find themselves. It also looks at individual people's hopes and dreams and how they can be ascertained or not.

`Reality and Dreams' might sound like rather a hotch potch novel (and it's a bit of a swine to try and encapsulate and write about) being so small it's also a book which has a heck of a lot to discuss yet it all works together in Spark's more than capable hands. This though is the genius of Muriel Spark and something she manages in every novel I have read of hers so far. I do like books that are dark. With sinister undertones here and there and a nasty little twist at the end whilst this isn't my favourite of her books it's certainly another Muriel Spark novel that I would highly recommend.
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Reality and Dreams: Complete & Unabridged
Reality and Dreams: Complete & Unabridged by Muriel Spark (Audio Cassette - April 1997)
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