The Dream Room by Marcel Moring

DATE FINISHED: May 24th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Narrated by a 12 year old boy, in a period following WW2, David and his family spend a summer constructing model aeroplanes for their landlord, a toy shop owner.  After hearing stories about his father’s exploits during the war, leading up to how his parents met, the visit of an old friend, Humbert Coe, presents the key to previously unspoken family secrets.

THOUGHTS: This short but poignant novel has the feeling of a fable, from the conveyer-belt production of model aeroplanes, to the slightly cliched framework which is emphasised in the – to me unnecessary – final chapter.  The aeroplanes are also, of course, a slightly obvious reference to David’s father’s war experience (neatly juxtaposed with David’s shift in focus in the final chapter).

The characters, however, are far more human than their archetypal counterparts, their subdued surface heavy with the sadness and loss of an era, combined with the complexities of their individual natures.  Even so, the story is told with a gentle sense of humour, alleviating what could easily be (but isn’t) a depressing read.

Read in one sitting, if you can, so that the small details and connections do not evade capture.  The story is very simply written, easy to read and with engaging characters; but it is layered with a subtle web, in which dreams and memories intersect but can easily slip beyond grasp if you aren’t paying attention.  It is the kind of book you will want to read again, and which will haunt you, slightly.

FOLLOWING ON:  Tales of Innocence and Experience by Eva Figes re-shapes an alternative experience of the holocaust (and survival) in which family is equally important.

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