Article published on July 3, 2015.
It’s almost impossible to imagine that two decades have elapsed since Louise De Bernieres burst on to the literary scene with his epic and spectacularly successful novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I was with Waterstone’s in the USA at the time of publication and watched open-mouthed as it went flying out the door of the Boston shop month after month; by the time I returned to Irish bookselling some years later it was still selling at the same electrifying pace and to date, it has now sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
It was the kind of performance that had critics reaching for the superlatives such as this gem from the Evening Standard; “Louis de Bernieres is in the direct line that runs through Dickens and Evelyn Waugh… he has only to look into his world, one senses, for it to rush into reality, colours and touch and taste.” Few writers could live up to this kind of breathless over-assessment and it would not be unfair to suggest that Louise De Bernieres has struggled to match his Big First Book despite the more modest success of the novels that followed. So it is that with each new novel, you find yourself rooting for the author, hoping he can join up the dots between himself, Waugh and Dickens, and produce another great novel. Will The Dust That Falls From Dreams prove to be that novel? Described as “an epic story of love and war, and of England in the first half of the twentieth century” it’s Inspired by Louis’s de Bernières own family history.
In the brief golden years of King Edward VII’s reign, Rosie McCosh and her three very different sisters are growing up in an eccentric household in Kent, with their neighbours the Pitt boys on one side and the Pendennis boys on the other. But their days of childhood adventure are shadowed by the approach of war that will engulf them on the cusp of adulthood.
When the boys end up scattered along the Western Front, Rosie faces the challenges of life for those left behind. Confused by her love for two young men – one an infantry soldier and one a flying ace – she has to navigate her way through extraordinary times. Can she, and her sisters, build new lives out of the opportunities and devastations that follow the Great War?
Louis de Bernières’ moving novel follows the lives of an unforgettable cast of characters as they strike out to seek what happiness can be built from the ruins of the old world.
Bert Wright, Editor – The Nudge List
Louis de Bernieres (c) Ivon Bartholomew
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows