FICTION

Dreamland

Endeavour Quill. Jan. 2020. 84p. ISBN 9781911445777. pap. F
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A miserable heat wave in June 1911 New York City forces the enormously wealthy Batternberg family to uproot themselves from the city and move into the opulent Oriental Hotel on Coney Island for the summer. Initially dismayed at leaving her job in a bookstore and convinced that the summer will consist of an interminable round of social obligations, Peggy Batternberg instead discovers a newfound freedom on the island—swimming in the ocean, wandering through the amusement park, and falling in love with the handsome and talented artist Stefan, a Serbian refugee. However, when Peggy and Stefan discover a dead body on the beach and report it to the police, the couple learn just how unacceptable both tiers of society find their relationship. According to the author’s notes, her characters were inspired by New Yorkers of the turn of the century, from D.H. Lawrence and Rudolph Valentino to Peggy Guggenheim, the inspiration for Peggy Batternberg.
VERDICT This fast-paced, engrossing novel from Bilyeau (“Joanna Stafford” mysteries) gives readers an up-close and personal view of New York’s Gilded Age, from the flash and glamour of the decadently wealthy to the hardscrabble conditions of newly arrived immigrants.

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