I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.
I discovered the writer Nina George when I impulsively bought her first novel, The Little Paris Bookshop. Her next story, The Little Paris Bistro appeared next. Both were delightful tales of life in Paris, France. I had to wait a bit for her next novel, The Book of Dreams. This was quite a departure from the French novels, but Nina has created a magnificent and tragic novel, which is filled with hope and desire.
Nina George is the author of the best-selling books I just mentioned. Her books are an international phenomenon. She has published a number of novels in Germany published around Europe. She lives with her husband in Berlin and Brittany, France. I was lucky enough to meet her while on a tour of the US. I can’t wait for her next novel.
The Book of Dreams is a mysterious story of three people who come together to visit with a man and a young girl also in a coma. Sam is a teenager who is trying to find his father. His mother would not reveal the dad’s name. Accidentally, a doctor noticed the matching names. He had found his father. Then, Sam discovers a young girl who is also in a coma. Sam, has some special talents for understanding people. He asks for permission to visit the young girl. Nina writes, “We’ve barely entered the nurse’s common room when Nurse Marian hisses. ‘If you think you’re going to pay the occasional visit to a girl in a coma for some kind of thrill, Sammuel Valentiner, perhaps even take the odd covert snap to boast to your school friends until it eventually gets tedious and you don’t feel like coming, I’m warning you that we will never, I repeat never, never, let you in here again. Do I make myself clear?’” (89). Sam nods his approval. He knows there is some special connection between the young girl, his father, and himself.
Sam’s mother becomes important to understanding these tragedies. Nina writes, “So this is the meaning of life. // For the first time I understood men who don’t leave their families, even when they’ve fallen out of love with their wives. It’s because of these little people. These pure little people. Loving them is so simple and incurable. // Sam is extremely sensitive to the outside world, for his only means of resistance to it are wailing, sleeping, or crawling away. I watch his tiny head swivel when he hears a pleasant voice or sound, but he turns away when he detects a tone of voice that he doesn’t like. He can hear lies, for example, and exaggeration and grief. He finds them practically unbearable, and so he cries. // Being with Sam seems to improve my perception of the world. He also reacts to spaces and places. We mustn’t walk along certain streets, and he once had a fit of crying outside the entrance to a building. I later discovered that someone had been mugged and killed there” (128-129).
The novel is filled with these philosophical explorations by all the characters, and Sam has particularly powerful sensations. This unforgettable novel is sure to be high on any reader’s list. This is the sort of novel I love the best. Nina George has written a novel any reader will find hard to put down. 5 Stars
Likely Stories is a production of KWBU. I’m Jim McKeown. Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!