The Dust that Falls from Dreams is an epic family saga, spanning from England’s Golden years, through the turbulent times of World War II and its aftermath. It follows the fates and fortunes of one family – the McCoshs’ and their four daughters, intermingling with those of their childhood friends. Friends whose innocence was lost to the war.
Our main heroine is Rosie McCosh, engaged at age twelve to noble and sincere Ashbridge. It is war that separates them, and war that makes her a widow before she can be a wife. But with a love that strong, and a faith so deep, can Rosie ever find it in herself to love again?
Meanwhile, her sisters too are moving on with their lives, their innocence now fragmented along with the rigid hierarchy of masters and servants. I found Sophie, with her clumsy use of clever words, her quirky mannerisms and slightly off-beat personality, to be the most charming of the sisters. We also have Christabel, pratical and artistic, and Ottiline, perceptive and polite. Added to the cast is the increasing infuriating Mrs McCosh, clinging desperately to the traditions of the past, and her husband, Hamish, a creative genius – if somewhat eccentric. All are brought together, and to life, in this tale of epic scope and poetic lyricism.
The war itself fills maybe a third of the book, described in short but nerve-wrecking diary entries, so visceral that at times you can almost feel the mud and smell the misery. It truly brings home the full tragedy, and futility, of the war – so many young lives lost.
Overall, a beautifully written novel, filled with an engaging and individual cast of characters, each with their own distinct personalities. It is a tale of tragedy and heartbreak, but also hope and redemption. A tale of rebuilding a new world and a new life.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
The Dust that Falls from Dreams
by Louis de Bernieres
Published by Harvill Secker