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Sunday, October 09, 2016

Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis

From Goodreads:

For Jeff Johnston, a young historical researcher for a Civil War novelist, reality is redefined on a bitter cold night near the close of a lingering winter. He meets Annie, an intense and lovely young woman suffering from vivid, intense nightmares. Haunted by the dreamer and her unrelenting dreams, Jeff leads Annie on an emotional odyssey through the heartland of the Civil War in search of a cure. On long-silenced battlefields their relationship blossoms-two obsessed lovers linked by unbreakable chains of history, torn by a duty that could destroy them both.

Locus Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel (1988)
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1988)
John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1988)

I didn't realize this was Connie Willis' first novel until I read the afterward! It is immediately clear that a lot of research went into this novel.  The mystery of the dreams bleeding through and trying to decide what they meant was very interesting, interwoven as it was with the events of Robert E. Lee's life during the Civil War and after.  That's right, Robert E. Lee.  To me the Lincoln's Dream part was a little misleading, as it was really a lesser part of the story and to me felt like it was included because it would seem more sensational as a draw?  The blurb also exaggerates the relationship of our two main characters, which is the weakest part of the story, but I suppose the mechanism needed to draw us through the dreams.

At any rate, while there are some definite flaws or lack of development in the characters themselves, the basic premise of the story, and the setting of the Civil War were the main draws for me, and did not disappoint. This is the second novel I have read by Willis (whom I didn't quite get to meet at Worldcon, but I did see her speak in the Grand Master's panel, yay!), the first being Doomsday Book, which was really good, but very affecting.  Lincoln's Dreams also is very affecting and its emphasis the horrors of the Civil War, along with the allure of dreams and their meanings, made it a solid and satisfying read for me.  I look forward to more of Willis' work, and expect just as much depth. 4/5 stars.

My first read of my own hosted Award Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Challenge, and fulfills a
"Any Novel by a Grand Master" Square on the Bingo card, as she was the Grand Master for 2011, presented in 2012.

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