Now, 20 years later, Isabelle must come to terms with the shattering memories she has long denied and unlock the slumbering power of her brush. And, in a dark reckoning with her old master, she must find the courage to live out her dreams and bring the magic back to life.
This is a tale of love, courage, and the transforming power of imagination.
©1994 Charles de Lint; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"In de Lint's capable hands, modern fantasy becomes something more than escapism. It becomes folk song, the stuff of urban myth." (Phoenix Gazette)
"[B]eautifully evokes a sense of creative community, making it almost possible to believe that the rarified aesthetic atmosphere might well be capable of conjuring up a spirit or two." (Publishers Weekly)
"[M]oves gracefully through the borders between reality and imagination, weaving a powerful tale about the relationship between an artist and her work. A strong addition to fantasy collections." (Library Journal)
Although I had heard of Charles de Lint for years and had read some of his short stories, this is my first book, so I write this to those of you who might come in cold and consider this book.
First, the book takes a LOOOONNGGG time to get started -- I had to start over a few times because I lost track of what was going on (and it's a long book). It also takes a long while before any fantasy element emerges, but the writing is so fresh and the characters so compelling, that eventually this book met my test of a wonderful audio book -- when you sit in your garage listening to it in the car because you can't wait to get back to it.
The long beginning is worth it, as this becomes my introduction into what I see now is a rich world that gets revisited in several of his books (all set in the artist community of Newford).
I rarely write reviews and, as a die-hard Stephen King fan, find few books that are as compelling, but this one sings after awhile, and is well worth the wait.
This is a book both writers and artists can enjoy. The authenticity of the lives of artists, writers, abusive childhoods, post traumatic stress disorder and depression are vividly written, but with subtle stokes. Taking the everyday joys and horrors of "real" life and adding the elements of magic mixed in with physics (the physics is not overt, but if one has heard of Projection Theory, the book seems to be littered with references) blends into a cohesive whole. The effect is enchanting and satisfies our desire for Truth while clothed in fantasy.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
The first chapter of Charles de Lint's Memory and Dream (1994), one of his many urban fantasy works set in the big fictional city of Newford, consists of a magical description of a painting in which a woman is reading a glowing book, while around her hover or perch myriad fairy-like figures. Are they real? "Or perhaps they are shadows only, and the summer's night that lies outside her window belongs not to memory, but to dream?"
The story itself begins with the great opening line of the second chapter: "Catharine Mulley had been dead five years and two months the morning Isabelle received the letter from her." Isabelle Copley is an artist of abstract paintings inspired by cityscapes, though she is seemingly living alone on wild Wren Island. She has much buried traumatic unfinished past business involving Cathy and their former mutual friend, the small literary local press editor Alan Grant, as well as her former Jekyll and Hyde "troll" of a genius artist teacher, Vincent Rushkin, her enigmatic Native American ex-boyfriend John Sweetgrass, and a fire that ended a lot of things. Cathy's letter, which she sent two days before her death by cancer, has arrived with a key to a locker in the Newford bus station. The letter and key, along with Alan's request for Isabelle to illustrate an omnibus collection of Cathy's urban faerie stories, set in motion a chain of events that thrust the artist into "the untidy tangle of dreams and memories." Into that story in the present of the early 1990s, de Lint suspensefully works the past story of the traumatic events in the 1970s that cut Isabelle off from Alan and Rushkin and John.
The first two thirds of the novel caught me. The conceit of the book, that a select number of gifted artists are able to paint into our world benign or malignant "numena" (spirits) who cannot bleed or dream but are real nonetheless, is fresh, the relationships between Isabelle and Cathy, Rushkin, and John are compelling, the mystery behind the fire that changed everything is potent, the revelations stun, and the speech and actions of the characters (though often irritating) feel right. Too, the themes about student-mentor and victim-abuser relationships, love, the impossibility of knowing what another person is thinking, the presence or absence of magic in the everyday world, the nature of being real and being human, and the roles of technique, talent, inspiration, passion, and responsibility in artistic creation, are all passionately treated. Throughout, de Lint sprinkles numinous descriptions, as when Alan thinks an underdressed gamine who visits him at night was "a vivid dream, the kind that seems so real it's like a memory," as well as moments of epiphany in which suddenly everything changes and anything becomes possible: "It was as though the carpet underfoot had suddenly dropped a few inches, settling like an elevator at a new floor." There are quietly moving scenes, too, as when Alan tells Isabelle that he thought that she had modeled all her female figures in paintings on Cathy.
Approaching and enduring the climax in the last third of the novel, however, de Lint tries too hard to generate suspense by writing too many manipulative cliffhanger point of view shifts and scene changes, even to the extent of abusing his neat numena concept, all of which decreases suspense and increases critical awareness. For in the last part of the novel his writing loses authenticity. The worst cases involve supporting characters whose points of view are excrescent, like Detective Davis, who talks like a sheriff or cop on a soon to be canceled TV show: "The only reason I'm going along with you is because I know you folks are straight shooters, but if you're dicking me around we're going to be playing twenty questions down at the precinct. Take that as a serious promise, lady." Necessary supporting characters like Marisa perform abrupt changes from irritating skepticism and weakness ("We're talking real life, not fairy tales") to unbelievable belief and strength ("Alan . . . For god's sake, go to her"). And while de Lint is excellent at getting in the heads of artist types, especially when depicting their theories and processes of creation, not to mention their non-action-hero qualities (as when Alan feebly picks up a rusty tire iron without knowing what to do with it), his main characters lose plausibility when pushed too far (nearly to absurdity), as when Alan feels "a savagery he hadn't known he possessed" or Isabelle dives at a monster. Action scenes yank de Lint out of his comfort zone, reflected by the fact that most of the bad lines and unconvincing things happen in the latter third of the novel, as when some teen gang members, sporting hoodies and spouting "homeys," make a cameo appearance rendered unnecessary by subsequent events.
Kate Reading reads the novel with her usual flavor, clarity, and sensitivity, doing fine with female and male characters alike--apart from some uncomfortable moments as with Detective Davis and the "gangbangers."
Be all that as it may, Memory and Dream is often rich and moving, often a heady pleasure. If you are interested in the mental and emotional and physical workings of artists and writers et al, as well as in socio-political matters like child abuse, gender, class, poverty, and charity, all mixed in a modern city in which magic lies just around the corner, this book would probably work for you.
The concept was intriguing and once it got rolling it kept my interest, but at times it became repetitive. It felt a bit like the book had been both written and edited in sections over a longer period, instead of as a cohesive whole, so that the author and editor would occasionally forget that a point had been made very clearly in a previous chapter. The author also occasionally seemed to stray from the story line now and then, forcing topics like AIDS and the misguided fiction critics in where they didn't seem to fit. On the whole I'm not sorry I chose it, but with some tightening up it could have been far better. The narrator (Kate Reading) was excellent!
This is one of those books that you just want to love so badly, but you just don't. Charles de Lint has written about a hundred books. No kidding, his list of books is huge. I have wanted to read some of them for a long time, so I took the opportunity to listen to this one. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, and I was glad when I was finished with it. In all fairness, I have to say that I did not know it was the fifth book in a series when I started it, but I never had the sense that I needed to read the others before I read this one. It was all right. The writing was not bad, the story was not bad, the characters were not bad, but it just didn't have that "Je ne sais quoi" that makes a book irresistible, or even engaging. I am not a huge "fantasy" fan, for one thing, so I guess that has to color my opinion of it somewhat. I have one more deLint book on my shelf that perhaps I will get around to someday, and maybe I will like it better. I hope so, but I don't foresee myself becoming a great fan.
The narrator, Kate Reading, was a good reader. I was annoyed at her voice at first, but after a while I got used to it, and I thought she did a pretty good job, but like de Lint, she will never be my favorite.
It is hard for me to review this book. I liked it, and I will read more by the author. It was ambitious, entertaining, and unique. I gave it 4 stars. However, it was also inconsistent. In the last 1/3 of the book, the author began to try and instruct and entertain in the classic style. This may have been to better illustrate one of the characters, but it was heavy handed, and seemed out of place. In his defense, he switched narration viewpoints successfully and in an audio-book, journal entries, and similar shifts are hard to narrate. Kate Redding did her best here.
The author wrote about LSD and did not seem to have a good understanding about the drug. I mention this because it caused problems with my suspension of disbelief that is so necessary in fantasy. Later, a police officer who was a "walk on" character entered the story again and became almost (my opinion) a cartoon. Kate Redding is a great narrator, and her cops stand out. She rescued the cop. He kept a shotgun under his seat. That sentence caused problems with my suspension of disbelief as well. Was his sidearm not enough fire power? Is that even possible? Why would he do that? In a dashboard rack or in the trunk perhaps, but would a police shotgun even fit under the seat of any squad car? Even if it would, the sentence bothered me enough to mention it. Suggestion: The author needs to do a ride-along with the police at some point.
I think that the failing here falls with the editor. This story was very good, and had a lot of primary characters. The editor needs to keep the final version concise because the author can become blind to this sort of problem after several drafts.
The writing is like a painting, bright, vivid, and haunting
Isabell because she is a flawed human who takes responsibility for her choices and becomes a more fulfilled person.
Her portrayal of Kathy made the character more interesting. She tends to portray the female lead as weak which does not always fit the character. Overall though she gives each character their own unique voice which facilitates the story.
When Isabel decided to choose to live.
This was a very hopeful fairytale!
I found this a very engaging book to listen to . I plan on reading / listening to it again. De Lindt is one of my favorites.
As a collector of Charles De Lint books, I was so excited to see an audio version. I was not disappointed. The book is set in his Newford setting that he uses for his urban realism stories. De Lint explores the role of the arts in our lives. A common theme in many of his books. Of course, he wraps it all in a lively set of stories that are interwoven and come together with a very satisfying end.
De Lint fans will be glad to listen to one of his stories and newcomers are in for a treat.
This story is as charming and colorful as we've come to expect from Charles de Lint; and Kate Reading's narration and character acting adds charm and warmth to an already delightful book! It was easy to find more and more opportunities to listen to this story.
An urban fantasy set in modern times with modern characters, it somehow seems possible with a little suspension of disbelief. Each characters is unique, with a breadth and depth that makes them as familiar as friends. It also has one of the signs of great fantasy: there is obviously much more to the world and people than is revealed in the words of this book. (In fact, there are many books' worth of story if you also find yourself wanting more.)
"A modern fairy tale with a twist!"
I must admit that I do like Charles de Lints books so maybe I'm biased already. I love the characters and the way you get to know them over his Newford books - you feel they are part of your circle of friends. This is a good length book to get hooked into on a long drive.
I can't say my favourite moments as it would give some things away if you haven't read it already - SPOILERS!
I wasn't sure on Kate Readings style of narration initially but after a while she seemed so right for Charles de Lints characters - a bit quirky. I recently listened to The Mystery of Grace which made me realise that Charles de Lint without Kate Reading just doesn't seem quite right! Just a bit annoying on the mispronounciation of a few words - funny how they just jump out at you and you can't forget them
I listened to this book twice in a row - I do a lot of driving and when I finished it the first time, I just hit rewind and went through it all again.
Give it a chance - its a modern urban fairy tale which in some ways seems that it could really happen. Or maybe I've just read too many of his books!!
"What a story."
Definitely. There is a lot of depth and detail in the book which would benefit from more than one read
The Outlander series by Dianna Gabaldon
A very good reader with a pleasant voice who reads fluidly She also reads according to the pace the book needs. I very much like her style of reading
It is a very long book that would be impossible to listen to in one session. However I couldn't put it down and really annoyed all my family because of the amount of time I spent listening to it. and out of touch with them .
An exciting story, well written and completely captivating.
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