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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 10 September 1997
Lincoln's Dreams was the first book I read by Connie Willis, and the best by far. It is the story of a young Civil War historian who is pulled into the dream world of a disturbed young woman. The tragic story of the Civil War is deftly entertwined with the tragic story of that young woman

Ms. Willis did an outstanding job of researching the Civil War. Her story is rich in texture and detail. But the most extraordinary thing about this book is the incredible tension she builds with the progression of the story. This quiet little story generated the kind of menacing anxiety usually reserved for spy thrillers!

I have read everything Connie Willis has written, and greatly enjoyed most of it, but Lincoln's Dreams remains my favorite of her books.
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on 17 February 1999
In Lincoln's Dreams Willis draws us to question the nature of time, place, and the interconnectedness of all living things. By the end I had alternately accepted and rejected the reincarnation theme several times. Reincarnation alone doesn't account for the interplay between the hero and heroine--they are definitely more than manifistations of a dead horse and master. Willis implies that souls are constantly traveling through time together and replaying a type of predestination that they can never escape until what? Is a resolution even possible for these characters? Or are their love and loyalty the only reality? The possibilities for exploring the existence of the soul and its nature that Willis opens the mental door to provide the same sort of nagging haunting that James' Turn of the Screw offers whenever you take the view that the narrator IS reliable and therefore the book really becomes an effective horror story. So much for free will and choice.
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on 4 January 2015
I guess you have to make allowances for the fact that LINCOLN'S DREAMS was one of the
author's earliest books. It's also probably one of her shortest.
The idea of a woman dreaming of the American Civil War, and a young researcher
trying to interpret the dreams, was an appealing one.

Compared to her later classic TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, the writing of DREAMS seems
almost amateurish, the characters are frustratingly dreamlike themselves, and the ending
seemed a bit confusing, a symptom perhaps of mixing the narrative so closely between the Civil War
and that of present day.

With this interesting premise of panning back to that great War, a glorious chance was missed, I feel;
so much could have been done with it, but the actual scenes that are dreamt out are mostly
inconsequential bits and pieces, or a made up story that was being written by the author in the story.

Fellow reviewers here saying it's the best book ever leaves me confused - there's obviously another book
somewhere with the same title!!
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on 24 July 1999
I read the book when it first came out. It haunted me for years. I hunted it up and read it again. I just finished my third reading. It has the power to change you.
Connie Willis is a brilliant writer. All her books are worth the time.
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on 15 December 1997
Lincoln's Dream's is the story of a young woman who has peculiar dreams that turn out to be views of events before and during the Civil War. The connections are revealed to her by a literary assistant to a famous novelist who writes about the Civil War. The dreams apparently are related to the experiences of Robert E. Lee, and in many instances demonstrate the personal and professional agony that Lee suffered during the war.
Not much actually happens over the course of the story, other than the revelation that the dreams involve decisive battles, such as Chancelorsville and Getttysburg, or relate to members of Lee's family. The relationship of the dreams to the psychological disturbances of the protagonist is difficult to say. There is a mix of Freudian interpretation with concepts such as dreams as prodromal warnings (essentially dream magic). Since no one knows what dreams really mean, it would have been better to create some fantasy explanation, such as brain delta waves reflected into the future by some resonance amplification.
Overall, the book is well-written, but lacks direction. It just seems to fizzle out at the end. I don't think this book compares favorably with other Willis novels.
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on 24 December 1998
Definately Connie Willis, but very early in the career. Thought provoking, interesting study of Civil War battles and dreams and the job of the research assistant. Unfortunately, the ending was weak. I felt that the book should have ended several chapters before it did. Willis seems to have commited a common mistake by trying too hard to tie up all the loose ends, and the story suffers because of it. Still, a very interesting and thought provoking novel.
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on 30 March 2007
I found this novel immensely moving. Should it be called, 'Lincoln's Dreams' or 'Robert E. Lee's dreams'? The title is puzzlingly at odds with the plot, but I loved the way the modern setting, and the frantic chase through America the main characters were involved in, melded with the Civil War passages. For a British reader for whom the details of the American Civil War are hazy at best, this was hugely enlightening, giving a sense of what the Civil War means to modern Americans, particularly Southerners.

It has its tragic elements, so don't look for a cheery romp such as Ms Willis provides in 'To Say Nothing of the Dog'; but for an intense, gripping tale full of pathos and anguish, yet which is still life-affirming, this is hard to beat.
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on 31 August 2006
Get a few things out in the open - this isn't "typical" science fiction (no robots, guys), it certainly isn't a war story (no big bangs, guys) but what it is is an intense little story about a small number of people, and primarily just two. And by the end of the book you really feel that you know these people.

Don't get me wrong, this is really page turning stuff, and when the end comes it isn't a nice tidy "all lived happily ever after" ending, but was that ever likely?

If Sci-Fi prizes are awarded for well-written work, it's not hard to see why this (first) book did so well.

It just seems a huge shame that Connie Willis is so little known in the UK.
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on 3 June 2008
So disappointing after all her other books which I have loved. I couldn't engage with any of the sketchily-drawn characters or the plot, or even understand why it was called Lincoln's Dreams when it seemed to be about Lee's. Other than to own the answer-machine Broun seemed pointless and all the characterisation so shallow that the story did not build up any suspense, and fizzled out at the end anyway. Left me feeling more baffled than interested
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on 15 October 1997
Far too many writers of fantasy/science-fiction use gadgets or magic to dazzle the reader into ignoring their poor development of character. Not this book. Characters are as well-drawn as the better "mainstream" novels. The reader willingly accepts the wonderfully preposterous "what if" that creates the predicament. I cried at the end. Wonderfully written.
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