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The Law of Dreams: A Novel by Peter Behrens

The Law of Dreams: A Novel (2006)

by Peter Behrens

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4671222,172 (3.82)18
  1. 00
    The O'Briens by Peter Behrens (Iudita)
    Iudita: The same O'Brien family several generations after their migration to North America.

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I loved this book. It felt like there was not one superfluous word. It is a lyrical, unfolding story, told as the author imagines his grandfather's experience of leaving Ireland for Canada as a young man, after the Potato Famine. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
This is the story of a teenage boy, Fergus, who manages to escape the potato famine and death that plagues his family and neighbours in an area of Ireland near Limerick. It traces his journey from his homestead to a gang of bog boys and then to Liverpool where he is able to recover from his extreme poverty and disease. He then ventures to a railroad work camp in Wales where he is able to ensure a subsistence life. With all their savings, Fergus leaves with Molly, a railroad wife for North America aboard a ship called the Laramie. They are surrounded by others in the same dire situation. This is well written and very poetic. Given its nature, the story is depressing as it outlines the extremes to which these folks are subjected. The law of dreams is to keep moving, which is what Fergus continues to do throughout the story. There is a glimmer of hope at the end that he might actually break out of his cycle of bad luck and survive with a little more prosperity. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Dec 17, 2015 |
A very, very compelling read. (Those who like fluffy, happy novels won't like it, but those who like poetic language in a tough world of beatings and fights, who enjoy descriptions that, while not bare-bones, are not adjective overkill, will not be able to put it down.). But halfway through as I write this partial review, I believe I have found a couple errors in consistency--a hat that fell to the road was later on the man's head of its own accord, that kind of thing--and I also feel some of the characters' names were stolen from popular song, which feels like theft (Arthur McBride and Red Molly, the former trad Irish and the latter from a Richard Thompson song)... small complaints indeed. My biggest vexation is that this book, in its only edition of a Canadian author's work, is in Anglese when it should be in proper English; but again, though a big deal for me and i think very little of Anansi for this insult to its own country and to the Irish/Englishsetting in which the book is set, this is not the fault of the author, though it degrades the book in my eyes. An excellent book with these silly caveats out of the way. Surprising number of typos, as well.

The book is sparse in description: only the necessary. One gets a 'today' sense of what yesterday was like. Entitled landowners depriving their fellow humans of land when the potato crop went south. Lord of the Flies-esque madscrabble to survive. Alliances formed and dissolved. Comfort in a house of ill repute. Irish seen as sneaky vermin, never trusted by the English. Again, a compelling read. "Six Months Before the Mast" blended with Ondaatje. ( )
  Muzzorola | Dec 25, 2014 |
This book continues to haunt me from time to time. It is the story of one young man's life. His life is difficult, yet he persists and never gives up. He is born into Ireland and lives on a farm with his family, and then the famine arrives. The sorrow, the loss of life, the devastation this causes is what haunts me.

It is a beautifully written book, about a horrible time. Well worth the read, especially if you are into Irish history. ( )
  mbklibrary | Aug 25, 2013 |
I thought this book fascinating and not as dark as some found it.It reeked of history but kept the interest with a variety of characters. I almost felt I was there with Fergus as he battled the fates to escape to a better life. ( )
  oldstick | Oct 9, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812978005, Paperback)

Driven from the only home he has known during Ireland’s Great Hunger of 1847, Fergus O’Brien makes the harrowing journey from County Clare to America, traveling with bold girls, pearl boys, navvies, and highwaymen. Along the way, Fergus meets his three passionate loves–Phoebe, Luke, and Molly–vivid, unforgettable characters, fresh and willful.

Based on Peter Behrens’s own family history, The Law of Dreams is lyrical, emotional, and thoroughly extraordinary–a searing tale of ardent struggle and ultimate perseverance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:22 -0400)

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After witnessing the deaths of his family, Fergus O'Brien leaves Ireland in search of a new life. Includes reader's guide.

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Canongate Books

An edition of this book was published by Canongate Books.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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