When I first picked up Captain Corelli’s Mandolin years ago and devoured it in a sitting, I wondered who Louis De Bernieres was and how and why did I never hear about him before. The minute I finished his backlist I anxiously waited for what he would write next.
He has written a few books since but most have been disappointments. His latest, The Dust That Falls From Dreams, is no Captain Corelli’s Mandolin but it is a close second.
With this book you get a love story that takes place during and after World War One and the atrocities that men can do to other men. He fills the pages with the horrors of trench warfare and what it feels like to be a soldier. The love story is between Rosie McCosh and her true love and what befalls many that had to endure the war and the loss of a loved one.
Rosie tries to find love again but can’t imagine anybody filling the shoes of her true love. She is very religious and asks God to give her advice on what to do. Rosie also has three other sisters who are also looking for love during wartime.
One of her sisters meets a chaplain, another meets a woman, and the last sister is the odd woman out but may end up the strongest of the lot. Her parents are also very strict and class obsessed. Her mother’s attitude is altered during an incident in the war that changes her life forever. Her father is a businessman with a big heart but also looks at war as business opportunity. The housekeeping staff is shown to be the help with hearts of gold.
The Dust That Falls From Dreams is told in 107 short chapters. The style of the novel can sometimes feel mechanical in that it seems like he drafted the whole novel out and then just filled the story with meat and a lot of fillers. It feels like it could have been told with fewer pages and the reader would still have felt like it was worth the read.
By the book’s close we see that as human beings once a true love is gone we either succumb to the pain or carry on and try to find a new one that will fill that huge void of our broken heart. Mr. de Berniers also teaches us that no matter how good or brave we are that death can still come looking for us.
Now that it seems that Mr. de Bernieres is back on track with great storytelling. I hope he will feel comfortable enough leaving his stories of World War One in the dust otherwise, (I think he has told us all we need to know.) I’m not sure how many great stories he has left to tell.