Review of Escaping Dreamland

This review is based on a pre-released copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It is scheduled to be released in September of 2020.

Escaping Dreamland by Charlie Lovett

My rating: 5 of 5 star

Escaping Dreamland is a magical read – much like all of Charlie Lovett’s novels. He has an exceptional talent for suspending the reader’s conscious of their own surroundings and drawing the reader in the story being woven. Like his other works, there is a multi-layered, almost ethereal connection between present days and past lives. Many storytellers struggle to effectively move and forth between different periods in a single novel. Lovett is particularly adept at delivering intertwined tales that seem smart and believable and never contrived.

In Escaping Dreamland, Lovett explores the less than storybook lives of a group three early twentieth-century early adult book authors. These are the works that inspired and entertained child and teen readers in the pre-1970’s world. As an avid reader, even then, I will admit that I was of a time that enjoyed just these tales. Today novels such as the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew seem of another time, one of innocence, heroism and discovery that seems absent from today’s world. One hears a subtle corrective voice in this work. We often look back through rose-tinted glasses to a golden age – it’s not that uncommon. As we gain experience (echoes of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience here ;-) we become aware of our own altered perceptions. But has childhood changed over time? In many ways it has, and this has given rise to research, chairs and even full departments in universities today. Escaping Dreamland is Lovett’s contribution to this question in the form of a brilliantly engaging series of interconnected stories.

This novel explores what we carry with us, what we leave behind and sometimes why experience is quite different from maturity. Ultimately it reinforces why we need to remain in touch with our own inner child.
It is this self-reflection that forms the present-day story in Ecpaing Dreamland – illuminated through the discovery of the past experience.
Robert Parrish is a semi-successful author who struggles in the relationship with his girlfriend. The relationship is troubled by growing distance and professional frustration. We learn early on that this stems from an unresolved life-altering event in his own childhood that he is unwilling to either address or share. This identifies a web of secrets that the novel suggests challenge our personal relationships. Parrish finds a unique catharsis through uncovering the lives behind the stories that were so important to his own upbringing.

By exploring his own journey from childhood and maturation, Lovett, through Parrish makes a compelling distinction between childishness and being childlike. But it is secretiveness that trips us all up – and maturity doesn’t always seem to help us accept this.

This is an intricately woven tale skillfully rooted in real historical events, with characters who you genuinely empathise with. So well done is the combination of homework and narrative that it is often difficult to distinguish between the real and the invented.

Escaping Dreamland lives up to Lovett’s high standards and together with his previous efforts form a treasure trove of superb reads.

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