3 out of 4 stars
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Sarah’s Dream by Eileen Bird tells the historical fiction tale of a young English woman across several years during the early 1900s. Now in her early adult years, Sarah is an only child whose parents have recently passed away. She is getting married to William, despite her friends not having a kind word for him. He’s too proud to move into the home that Sarah inherited from her parents, and he is shamelessly looking forward to his own inheritance, if only to spite his brother. Years later, Sarah learns the hard way that William has been lying and cheating his way through life, and he leaves her homeless with two small children. Sarah must then rely on the kindness of strangers to survive.
Whenever I read a book, I always want to know why the book is given the title that it has. In this case, the title is a little vague, as there are only two moments in the story in which Sarah has a dream. One of those moments indicated only a small bit of foreshadowing. The other dream, which seems to be the more fitting reason behind the title, is at the very end of the book. Unfortunately, because of spoilers, I cannot fully explain why the book was given its title. It’s not a big deal, and it certainly doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story, but I think that a different title that more broadly describes the events of the book may have been more fitting.
For some reason, this book reminded me of a condensed, adult version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Poor Sarah just seems to be stuck in an endless cycle of misfortune. First, she loses her job as a music teacher because she is getting married. Then she has to give away her piano because her husband doesn’t like it and there is no room at their new house. It only gets worse when her husband takes all of their assets, including selling their house without telling her. The poor woman just can’t catch a break. Being an abandoned woman with two children during that time period couldn’t have been easy. However, Sarah takes it all in stride and does the best she can with what she is given without showing much weakness or despair.
Although the story takes place more than a hundred years ago, it is easy to relate to Sarah and her story. The language that the characters use is extremely colloquial, so some of us Americans may have a harder time understanding the dialects as they are written. I actually found it kind of fun to learn some new words and manners of speaking. However, other parts of the story, predominantly those in which the characters go through their daily routines and meals, were a bit slow-paced for my taste.
The writing of this book is nearly flawless, and there is minimal profanity or scenes of a graphic nature. Overall, I give this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars, and I would recommend it to adult readers who enjoy historical fiction and are looking for something casual to read. The story can feel a bit slow-paced at times, but I think that many readers may prefer this if they are in the mood for some light reading.
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