Dreams and Reason, by Juliet Valcourt

37655189Dreams and Reason, by Juliet Valcourtis a bewildering book. A lot of the book feels like the inverse of a Jane Austen novel, but there are also supernatural elements that further complicate the already tangled relationships in this book. While we do get interesting stories about two girls who receive a crash course in the downsides of love, I think the book should have either gone more supernatural or dropped that element entirely and embraced its take on the Regency comedy of manners.

Caroline Fyfe has always loved Tom Daley. Consequently, she is devastated when he comes back to town with a new wife. Tom regrets his hasty marriage and continues to pursue Caroline, even though the morals of 1830s rural England are strictly against it. Caroline tries to resist, but her love for Tom leads her to live with him after his wife leaves and Caroline turns up pregnant. Life gets worse and worse for Caroline until two devastating events give her a chance to start over. Given the many allusions to Austen, reading about Caroline and Tom’s relationship feels a bit like spying on Lydia and Mr. Wickham after their marriage.

This is enough for a novel but, for some reason, supernatural characters and events are shoehorned into story. These elements are almost completely gone by the end of the book, leaving me to question why they were even there in the first place. I was kind of enjoying those and leaving them undeveloped was a let down. I also had issues with the way Dreams and Reason was written. Until I was told that this book was set in 1830s England, I had no idea where or when I was. I suspect that this time and place was picked because that’s when Austen wrote and because the fairy plot worked a little better then and there. Further, this book is written mostly in wincingly anachronistic dialogue and features weirdly forgiving secondary characters who look past all of Caroline and Tom’s adulterous shenanigans. I finished it, but Dreams and Reason read like a rough draft to me, not a finished novel.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s