The House of Dust and Dreams Paperback – 10 Jun 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
The story is excellent so far - in fact I am going to cut this review short (will come back and finish it later) because I want to get back to the book.
If a strong story, interesting characters and a wonderful setting appeal to you - read this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Crete and this suited me well as a holiday read. All the emotion pored out in the well written text.Published 23 days ago by Mrs M
Was given this as a present, wish I had discovered it earlier! As a huge lover of Greece and its islands, it really evokes the atmosphere of the Greek way of life and I can't find... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I will always cherish my copy of this book, a beautifully writtain book by an amazing author. I felt I was there in Crete with Heavenly and feel I know her so well. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Looking forward to reading this on holiday as the book is based in Crete and I am going there for holiday.Published 10 months ago by Anita Page