One of the things I’m most grateful for about the whole Debutante Ball experience is that it’s exposing me to books I might not have picked up on my own. The Dream Peddler is filled with fundamentally good and decent characters and doesn’t include even one gruesome murder (though there is a central death, which sends profound shock waves through the small community where the book takes place) so it’s a bit outside the wheelhouse of the books I usually read, where terrible people do even more terrible things to one another.
But if I’d missed out on reading The Dream Peddler, that would have been my tremendous loss! I absolutely loved Martine’s debut novel. It’s an enchanting, gorgeously-written meditation on grief, compassion, and the divide between the things we think we want and the things we actually need, and I found myself highlighting so many beautiful turns of phrase on my Kindle as I was reading. A small sampling:
- quiet bruises began to mottle its surface like gathering clouds
- a silence rolled itself between them like a lazy cat
- the words pulled on him, drew off his smile
As Kai so eloquently put it in her post on Monday, “every paragraph is a painting” – I cannot say enough about the stunning writing in this book! The characters were just as vivid, and Martine moves between their points of view with expert fluidity. You start to feel like a resident of the town as well, like you’ve known all these people forever, their foibles and predilections.
Martine has written before on this blog about how L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon books were the original inspiration for The Dream Peddler. I was actually a huge fan of those books as a child, and I still have my well-worn paperback copies. Maybe because of my affinity for the Emily books, The Dream Peddler seemed both familiar and fresh to me – like returning to a place I’d lived when I was young, and finding it utterly changed, but somehow it still feels like home.