Book Review: Dream Sequence

Martina O'BoyleBook Review, Books, MiscellaneousLeave a Comment

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Dream Sequence

Get to know an obsessive fan (wait, can we immediately substitute “stalker” if they are just dreaming away…?)  and wonder what makes them tick in Adam Foulds’ new novel, Dream Sequence. You might almost like them.

Kristin is a somewhat ordinary woman living near Philadelphia who knows, just knows, she is meant for Henry Banks, an English actor on her favourite television show. How so? They met, very briefly, in an airport a year or so ago, and that exchange, not only those moments of conversation but the very fact that it occurred, confirmed their destiny.

Adam Foulds vividly writes Kristin, and she seems a lot like someone we might know. She’s recently divorced, unsure what to do next, goes to yoga and binge watches tv. Her distant sister worries that she doesn’t get out enough, and hopes she’ll move on from this heartbreak.

Dream Sequence uncovers secret lives of wanting

The people in her life don’t fully know of Kristin’s obsession. However, as the novel swiftly switches to the life of the of object of her affection, up and coming actor Henry Banks, we see Kristin might not be the only ­person grasping for what they feel they deserve.

As in a lot of real-life experiences in getting to know stars, it turns out the magazines are right – they’re just like us! They have mortgages, worries, dreams. Banks wants a coveted film role he thinks will make him a global film star, and sort of stalks the quirky director, Garcia, for whom he’s just auditioned, to find a chance to impress him. His daily routine is a mixture of training, industry jealousy and what-ifs, if-whens. We get to know Henry, although it becomes clear Henry needs to do the same.

A novel about celebrity and self

As the narrative unfolds and Kristin unravels as we surely knew she would, the tension amps up, and I won’t spoil the ending. However, one of the problems I had with Dream Sequence is, after getting to know a bit about Kristin initially, her side of the story disappears for quite a chunk of the narrative. The nuances of her mental state, especially the longing for the family she had briefly and lost, made me care about her and understand – of course not excuse, but empathise – her longing to fill an emotional hole that had been created quickly and ripped away just as it was becoming real. We do learn a lot about Henry and how he craves celebrity while almost hating it, but bit more back-and-forth between stories would have helped.

Adam Foulds, known for award-winning poetry and for the WWII-set novel In the Wolf’s Mouth, is concise and yet colourful in setting a clear picture of modern-day London and the cult of celebrity.  This was a story that left me knowing all involved, yet somehow wanting more.

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Being a Sweeper is a tough job: City of Broken Magic
Laura van den Berg’s debut Find Me a great novel about memory
Is Anger a gift? – JL’s review
Britain is being ruled by magic in Bright Ruin
Eye of the Beholder Book 1: Sinless

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Martina O'BoyleBook Review: Dream Sequence