The Book of Dreams by Nina George

The Book of Dreams

Nina George

The Book of Dreams is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

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Warm, wise, and magical—the latest novel by the bestselling author of THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP and THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO is an astonishing exploration of the thresholds between life and death

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.
After the accident, Sam—a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction—waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight—for hope, for patience, for life—they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.
A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

Advance Galley Reviews

Well written and engaging even with being an old theme.

Not really my cup of tea. DNFed it.

The writing in this novel is beautiful. I would highly recommend for that alone. I loved the characters and the story. It was one of those books that left me with a book hangover because I was not ready to let the story and the characters go.

This book had a lot of thought provoking moments and brought me to tears more than once. Unfortunately, I did not finish it before the download expired so I will be purchasing so that I can read every page!

I wanted to find out "the end" of this spectacular novel without ever having the book end. The writing is so poignant, the characters so interesting, and the storyline so compelling that I savored every word. Henri is enroute to finally meet his son, Sam, when he is struck by a car. His injuries are so severe he is put into a medically induced coma. Sam finds out about the accident and visits his father in the hospital, discovering a connection through a string bracelet he had sent to his father which is still on Henri's wrist. He is compelled to find out everything he can about his father by visiting him every day despite being unable to communicate. Eddie is Henri's estranged lover, a woman he left abruptly when she declared her love. Henri had named her to have power over medical decisions in just such a case as occurs. The story is told through the voices of these three main characters and explores so much - love, life, death, the in-between, lost opportunity, alternate choices and outcomes... the very stuff of our lives explored in exquisite prose. The book is deep and thought provoking. It will stay with me a long time. I received a free pre-publication copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Thank you for an advance copy of “The Book of Dreams” - written by Nina George in exchange for an honest review. Ms. George navigates a broad path for us to truly explore beyond our comfort zones of what both the living and dying truly mean to each of us. She will encourage you to think in new ways about each world and more importantly discover what world lies somewhere between the two. If you stay on course you will return at a minimum with a new perspective on each world. George takes us on several journeys in the worlds that lie between a Father (Henri) and son (Samuel) whom until a tragic accident have had no relationship but whose worlds instantly become entwined. While taking the long way around a journey between the lives each shared apart which include Henri’s ex-love (Eddie)and son Sam’s new friend (Madelyn). This is a tale whose characters dance between many worlds before coming together via a tragedy to transcend their lives. This novel touches on the human experience of living and essentially what it means under all circumstances and what we are willing to do or not do for love. You will also see a new definition of empathy and discover how to maximize all your senses via (Samuel) who is gifted synesthete and brilliant. You will behind the scenes in hospital environment from perspectives of both patient and medical staff. Your definition of love and relationships will be put to the test as well. You will witness true love which cannot be denied but is when egos, and insecurities get in the way can be stifled for years. (Henri and Eddie). You will fresh, young love with Sam and Maddie. While also experiencing the undeniable bond between Fathers and their children. Love is love on all accounts. But when does it begin and when does it end. You will be taken to a higher consciousness and way of thinking that you perhaps never imagined. I was not surprised by any of the material instead was happy to read things openly revealed as I always remain open to all things. George's writing is refreshing. My only negative about “The Book of Dreams” is that it may be tough for some to follow with the multiple versions of the story (Henri, Eddie and Sam) written simultaneously within the story of each of their lives. The constant back and forth for each of those lives which at times seems redundant. This is why it is a 392 page novel. However at the end of the day if you are a book lover you will push thru like myself and I’m glad I did. Thank you Ms. George for The Book of Dreams and sharing your voice.

5/5 Stars. This book is so breathtaking I want to cry! The writing is absolutely beautiful, I loved it so much! Then the characters...I got to know them and listen to thier stories, I love them and I didn't want to finish this book (I cried obviously). I loved everything about this book, the ending was more realistic than a happy ending, I kind of expected it and I thought I was ready to face it *insert crying emoji*

There was a lot I loved about this book. There was also a lot that made it difficult. Overall I would recommend the book, but it is hard to follow at times and because it’s told from 3 different points of view there are times it’s hard to follow. I do appreciate that this book makes you think about your life, and how it can change (or end) at any moment, which makes one appreciate their life so much more. It’s an interesting, confusing, thought provoking book - so much like life itself.

This book was good. I enjoyed Little Paris Bookshop and this book has a much different tone. It’s slower paced, but so well-written. Very interesting and poignant.

It was good, but didn't end how I thought it would. I cried throughout the book. I still have some questions, but I would recommend it.

I almost wish I could give this book two separate ratings. There were two story lines and I was never able to connect with one of them. Henri, who is in a coma after saving a young girl and then being hit by a car, has multiple dreams about different ways his younger life could have turned out. But, since we already knew what really happened, this all seemed extraneous to the story. Maybe one optional timeline would kept my interest but instead I just got continually confused and turned around. In the other story line is Eddie, Henri's ex-girlfriend who has medical power of attorney and Sam, Henri's son who he has never met but is also a synesthete. This was interesting as it allowed Sam to somewhat communicate with Henri and another coma patient, Maddie. But I felt this part of the story was never properly explored. I wanted more of that and less of Henri's optional histories. Ms. George gave us some very interesting characters but I don't think we learned enough about the ones I wanted to learn more about. I also think she ignored her original premise, the books created for each of the patients. It is part of the title and is mentioned, but never really followed up. That was a missed opportunity in my opinion.

Book of Dreams – Nina George Summary: This book deals with relationships, how life paths can change dramatically (for better or worse) through failure to recognise “sliding door” moments, and making sure you make the most of the one sure life you have. Main Characters: Sam Valentier: The son, thirteen years old, who is super-smart, and a synesthete – he can see information in a sensory way. He has never met his biological father, and lives with his mother and step-father. Henri Skinner: Sam’s father, a former war correspondent, a man driven by fear and capable of extraordinary feats of bravery. Edwina “Eddie” Tomlin: Henri’s former girlfriend, a successful publisher of fantasy books. She befriends Sam in the hospital. Madelyn “Maddie”: The comatose twelve-year old orphan girl, whom Sam “befriends”. Minor Characters: Dr Saul aka God: The ever-present neurosurgeon, highly talented, but limited by the current state of medical knowledge. Nurse Marion: The fifty-something nurse who puts her years of experience to good use in helping Sam, and the patients under her care. Plot: This is a book told from three very different perspectives. Henri is the battle-hardened absent father. We meet him as he throws himself off a bridge, to save a young girl from drowning. While he saves her, he ends up getting terribly injured, and becomes hospitalised and comatose. The ironic twist? He was on his way to see his son for the very first time, having received an invitation to an Open Day at his school. Sam is the son, a bit of a loner, but best friends with Scott, another genius, and expert forger. He lives with his mother, who has told him nothing about his biological dad. Her partner is Steve, who mostly remains in the background. Eddie is the ex, inexplicably dumped by Henri. Successful in her career, things were going well when she professed her undying love, whereupon Henri turned on his heel and walked. The major incident occurs early on, resulting in Henri being admitted to hospital. Sam discovers what has happened, and through Scott’s clever forgeries of notes, is able to bunk off school and spend time with his father on the ward. Accidentally getting off on the wrong floor, he comes across Maddie and Nurse Marion, and is immediately drawn to Maddie. He decides he will continue to visit both for as long as it takes. Eddie was nominated by Henri as his living will representative, which is how she finds out he’s in there. She meets Sam, of whom she knew nothing, but they quickly form a bond, which gets stronger as the novel progresses. The main action takes place at the hospital, yet there are ample flashbacks from Eddie to her relationship with Henri. Sam too has a deep imagination. We see the world from inside Henri’s head, as he struggles (internally, and invisibly to those in the waking world) to make sense of where he is. He reflects on his life choices, his childhood and his father, and how Sam came to be. Maddie, through Sam’s devoted attention, comes alive as a character, as Sam tries to find out more about this tragic girl. The nurses encourage him, as she has no visitors – all her family were wiped out. Eddie tries to balance her existing relationship, but is deeply torn over the man she loved beyond all love. This book has deep themes. The importance, power and visceral nature of love is front and centre. Love withheld – one parent forbidding the other to know their child, and the repercussions of that decision on all of them. Love lost – the open wound left behind when one person tears themselves away from the other. Love unrequited – where one never had the opportunity to express it. There are other themes – what happens after death, the sliding door reality of our lives, meaningful connections and unfinished business, the fact we know more about outer space than the human brain. What I Liked: - This is an absorbing read. The world-building was excellent, and the story flowed. - The main characters were well-developed and believable. - The perspective technique worked well, and allowed real depth to the story. What I Didn’t Like: - The ending, as it were, just felt a little rushed for me. Overall: This is a great book. There is a lot of emotion, well-drawn characters, and some philosophising on life, death, love, and the nature and needs of humanity. It reads like the author was exorcising some personal ghost, but the book is by no means self-indulgent or mawkish. It is one that will leave you thinking, whose characters you will remember, and absolutely recommend it. Acknowledgements: Thanks to the author and First To Read for providing me a free .mobi of the novel, in return for an honest and objective review.

I really wanted to love this book. Reading a story told from 3 different points of view was interesting, and unusual because one of the characters was in a coma. But, because one of the characters is in a coma, the story was a bit confusing and I had a hard time getting into it. I just felt as though I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters (which is awful considering that one of them is gravely injured!). That said, Nina George's writing was beautiful and there were so many lines I felt the desire to underline or write down. I can see this book appealing to a lot of people who are interested in intersecting story lines and mysteries but this one wasn't my cup of tea.

I really enjoyed the way the book was written in three different viewpoints. It is beautifully written and the characters were so real and vivid, however at times I found it hard to connect with Henri and found his parts confusing. Samuel's time with Maddy were beautiful and emotional.The tension between the characters kept me wanting to read. However the story slowed down a bit in the middle and I found it hard to remain engaged in the story. It is a thought provoking book and made me think about life and mortality but I ultimately didn't enjoy the book as much as I had hoped to.

It is a lovely concept and a sweet book but just not my cup of tea. It is a sleeper book at does not have a lot happening since a third of it is very surreal as it is told from the POV of the character in a coma. Fans of general fiction should like this one. However if you are expecting a book like The Little Paris Bookshop or The Little French Bistro I would not say this is it. It is a beautiful story but not as enjoyable as the other two.

What a beautiful book! It doesn't try to answer any questions about the afterlife but it certainly brings up a lot of questions. It made me want to explore the possibilities. The book also left me wondering what a person knows and perceives while in a coma. This is the best book I've read so far this year. It deserves five stars.

Nina George is one of my absolute favorite authors. I devoured both The Little Paris Bookshop and The Little French Bistro and it was a sincere pleasure to be one of the first to read The Book of Dreams. George has proven to be a master of pulling at readers’ heartstrings. Henri Skinner is on his way to meet is son, Sam, for the very first time when an accident leaves him hospitalized and in a coma. Sam and Eddie, Henri Skinner’s ex-girlfriend who he has left in charge of his medical decisions but hasn’t seen in over 2 years, visit Henri everyday, trying to convince him to wake up. Sam is a synesthete, he experiences his senses in a combination of ways. Notably he can see colors in numbers and in voices, he can feel personalities. This is how he knows his father is inside his comatose body, and he believes Henri can hear and understand him. When Sam asks Henri to find Madelyn, a young girl who has also been left in a coma after a car accident in which she lost her entire family, he truly believes her father can bring her back. Sam feels a connection to Madelyn, and believes she and his father are together, wherever they are. Eddie must grapple with a love for Henri that she thought she’d let go, only to find it returning even more strongly now that she is faced with truly having to decide if she can let Henri go, while Sam confronts the fact that he may never actually meet his father, though his synesthesia may allow him to know his father better than anyone ever could. In a story told in the shadows between life and death, George weaves together life, loss, love and pain in new and exciting ways, forcing readers to contemplate just what makes a life worth living, what it really means to be alive. There’s a beauty in the way George writes about death and loss, a spark that ignites our curiosity and pulls at the heartstrings leaving us wondering what more there might be to life that we just don’t know. If we can’t see something, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Can medicine and science truly explain everything? The Book of Dreams asks readers to consider all the things we just don’t know about life and death and the in-between spaces. It inspires us to trust our senses and feelings even when logic and reason and the harsh realities of the world would have us do anything but.

This was a unique story about two people in a coma and two people not in a coma and how dreams can help you connect to one another.  This books started about great but slowed down a lot in the middle to the point that I skimmed through about 100 pages. The last 100 pages were fantastic and so wonderfully written that I was sad the rest of the book wasn’t as good.  If you want a heartwarming story told in a unusual way, definitely read this one.

I’ve always wondered what happened when someone is in a coma. Haven’t you? This story was a bit confusing but I loved the story and would recommend it!

There occasionally comes a novel that is so magical and heart-wrenching and depressing yet hopeful, and one of those where you do not want put it down but find that you need to in order to ponder what you just read. This is such a novel. The three main characters — Henri, Eddie, and Sam — are so wonderfully well-written, you literally feel like you have met them in real life. The story line was so realistic and emotional and strangely romantic. I loved everything about this book, but it is not a quick, light read. It is challenging (in an emotional way), thought-provoking, and, quite frankly, not a very happy book. I don't mean that to be a discouragement, this book was so real and so raw, yet it was so magical, and a must-read in my opinion. Highly recommend. This is a rare book that I feel deserves a 5 out of 5 star rating.

This book explores what is going on in the mind of a person in a coma, by telling dreams, interspersed with memories, wrapped around until the reader is uncertain of reality. Ultimately, just ok for me.

4.5 Beautiful Stars! The Book of Dreams was my first novel by Nina George40929827] and it instantly captivated me and stole my heart. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love and all it's complexities. It engages your consciousness to question and examine the meaning of life, death, and ultimately love. Sam a 13 year old synesthete (look it up, I did it will open your eyes up to a fascinating view of the world) with an IQ of 144, wants nothing more than to know the love of his father. Henri a war reporter was never permitted to be apart of Sam's life but has pushed love away most of his. When he receives a note from his son to meet at school, Henri is determined to know this missing piece. While on his way to see Sam he heroically saves a young girl, but in all the confusion accidently steps into traffic and is hit by a car, ultimately putting him in a coma. Sam eventually discovers what has happened and rushes to his fathers bedside to be with him. There he meets Edwina (Eddie), someone who his father hurt very dearly in the past, but has listed as his emergency contact and care decision maker. Also on the hospital is Maddie, a former dancing prodigy, now a patient and ward of the state who was involved in a car accident that killed her family. Both Henri and Maddie are lost someone in between life and death. Yet through it all Sam, knows his father has not given up, he can see it, he can feel it, his gift allows him to know that is father is still there, refusing to let go. The Book of Dreams infuses the life of these four individuals brought on by tragedy but ultimately saved through sacrifice and love. It's an elegant and thoughtful book that makes you glimpse at life and death and what is conclusively important in the world.

Nina George admits that she has always been afraid of death - her own and that of those close to her that she loves. "... existential questions about death have colored my last three novels, The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little Breton Bistro, and The Book of Dreams . To produce these books, which address issues of being and no-longer-being, have no happy endings, and are therefore not very “market friendly,” I needed book people who were willing to tread this kind of literary path with me." This book was one sad thought after another. Both the dreams of Henri who is in a coma and the dreams of Sam, his son and Eddie, his love. A very difficult read and sad read to be sure. But I want to be there for you Nina, so recommend your excellent prose and your own voice hidden within.

Henri, an ex-war reporter, is on his way to see his son who he hasn’t seen in many years when he sees a young girl fall from a boat. After he jumps from a bridge and rescues the little girl, he stumbles into the road and is hit by a vehicle. Henri and Madelyn both end up in the hospital comatose. Sam, Henri’s son, finds out why his father never showed up and starts visiting him at the hospital every day, wanting to be there when/if he wakes. There, he also finds out about Madelyn and begins visiting her. Sam is a 13 year old synesthete and can feel Henri and Madelyn as they float between life and death. Edwina/Eddie is Henri’s ex-lover. They ended their relationship when he was unable to tell her he loved her; however, he listed her as his emergency contact if anything happened to her. As Henri drifts between dreams, levels of life and death, we relive events from his life and see the current intertwining of his, Sam’s and Eddie’s lives in a soulful, profound story. He feels Madelyn and once again rescues her sensing a future for her and Sam. For me, the book was not a fast, easy read; it is touching, sad and heartbreaking while giving an inspiring look at events that shape our lives, love and relationships. Nina George’s writing is beautiful and lyrical as usual.

A few years ago I read The Little Paris Bookshop because I found the cover to be gorgeous and the synopsis intrigued me. Boy, was I not prepared for the journey I went on haha. Nina George has this remarkable way of getting you to think about existential questions. That book changed my life. It put everything into perspective for me and helped me through my healing process. This book is just as impactful. Sam, Henri, Madelyn, and Edwina's lives intertwine in a most unexpected way. This novel focuses on life, death, and everything in between as Henri and Madelyn are both coma patients in the same hospital. And surprisingly, they also exist in the same in-between state. We get the viewpoints of all 4 characters thus giving us an interesting, and profound perspective on everything. It's a soulful, heartbreaking, oddly uplifting novel. The writing is lyrical. Everything I've come to expect from Nina George. The story tugs on your heartstrings just enough to get you wondering about dreams and what they are. About what happens after death. What, if anything, do we take with us? RATING: 4.75/5 stars

The Book of Dreams was a book that in its own way danced through my dreams. I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up this novel. It looked interesting but I wasn’t certain if I would like the book or not and I was pleasantly surprised. The book switches between three different points of view, Henri, Sam, and Eddie. Sam’s point of view is the most straight forward and in many ways he is the main focus of the entire book. He is a teenager who has never met his father, but goes to see him when his father ends up in a coma in the hospital. Through his point of view we see the facts about what is happening currently. Eddie’s point of view also allows us a view of the current happenings at the hospital; however, she also allows us a look at the past and relationships. She is listed as Henri’s emergency contact despite little contact for years. She is struggling to understand her feelings towards Henri. Henri’s point of view adds another layer to the story. Through him we see his past, the different stories that he has lived, and the event that sent him into a coma in the first place. In many ways this book draws you in and you want to read more and more. You are left waiting and wanting to know what happens. At the same time the language and imagery is beautiful and keeps you engaged with the story. The only downside for me was that some of the side characters were underdeveloped and I felt either could have become fuller characters or have been discarded. Overall, a great book that I loved to read. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to spoil anything in the book. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy!

I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is the type of book I will be thinking about for awhile. I think the author really took a chance with this one and maybe it won't be for everyone, but I'm pretty darn glad I read it. The story in some ways is a bit tricky to explain without getting into spoiler territory so I'm gonna keep it brief and simple. The less you know is probably best in this case. Henri Skinner is set to see his teenage son, Sam, for the first time in years when he is rushed to the hospital after being involved in a traffic accident. Henri's former girlfriend, Eddie, and Sam stick close to Henri's hospital bed as he is in a coma. The book is told from the alternating perspectives of Eddie, Sam, and Henri. Yes, you read that right, you will get to know the man in the coma quite well. I wasn't prepared for how much this would hit me on an emotional and spiritual level. Now I'll admit some of what the author was trying to express might have gone over my head, but what I did get, I loved. It was truly a treat to read a book in which the author was willing to go out on a limb and write a book that might not be "market friendly". I love when authors are willing to take chances and just go for it in order to tell the story they want and I appreciate when publishers give them the opportunity to do this as well. Such a great read and I look forward to checking out the author's other novels. Read this book if you are up for the challenge that it might be a high risk, but high reward type read. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy!

I’m not sure how to begin or what to say. I really enjoyed this book. It engaged and captivated me. It is a strangely titled book because the narrative spends a fair amount of time explaining that what is occurring cannot in fact be described as ‘dreaming.’ So, what is occurring? Henri is in a deep coma and is reflecting upon his life and his choices. Perhaps he is reflecting on what might have happened had he made other choices. Around him, his past has gathered, in the form of people, and he can sense that as well. Author Nina George spins a soft tale that consoles while it engages. For those of us that have recently lost a loved one, this story provides more comfort than most.


More to Explore

  • The Little Paris Bookshop
  • The Little French Bistro

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