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Dream of the Blue Room: A Novel Kindle Edition

23 customer reviews

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Length: 322 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Richmond's sophomore novel (after The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress) is a bleak melodrama about a young woman's prolonged grief over the death of her best friend and former lover. Twelve years have passed since college student Amanda Ruth was brutally murdered, and her sidekick Jenny has yet to recover. Jenny and her estranged husband, Dave, take a cruise on the Yangtze to scatter Amanda Ruth's ashes in the homeland of Amanda's Chinese father. Although Jenny wants to save her marriage, she rather coolly trashes it by becoming intimate with Graham, a cruise passenger who, despite suffering the final throes of Lou Gehrig's disease, manages to show Jenny around and teach her about the environmental perils facing China. Jenny's relationship with Graham takes a dark-and implausible-turn when she learns of his wish to commit suicide. Through it all, she continually relives her friendship and adolescent romance with Amanda Ruth. Her obsession with the young woman leads her to engage in troubling behavior, propelling the plot into a moral wasteland where the environment becomes the object of desire and human life is casually snuffed out. Richmond's prose tends to run purple, especially during Jenny's brooding monologues, which dominate the book ("I gaze into the dark depths of the river, looking for some reflection of the woman I am now.... But the river is opaque, and my vision is blurred"). Though Richmond poses provocative questions about grief and desire, the shallow characters and sensational plot twists don't allow her to explore them in much depth.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Jenny has embarked on a mission up the Yangtze River--to scatter the ashes of her best friend, who was murdered 12 years earlier. The depth and nature of their friendship continues to occupy her thoughts and actions despite the passage of time. She has compelled her husband, David, to accompany her even though they've separated--his choice not hers. Their chance encounters, David's with a recovering drug user, Jenny's with an Australian with a grisly agenda, create an unusual four-part relationship as appropriate as it is peculiar. The amazing Chinese landscape and the pending dramatic changes to be wrought by the Three Gorges Dam are a fitting mirror for the lives of these in-transition characters. Richmond combines more story elements than it seems possible to fit into such a small debut novel. Issues of love, loyalty, prejudice, history, passion, and compassion elbow each other for space on each page. But even with its crowded feeling, the book is finely crafted and compelling, and its emotions resonate true and clear. Danise Hoover
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 660 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (February 5, 2010)
  • Publication Date: February 16, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4DW4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,913 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Michelle Richmond is the author of four novels and two story collections. Her most recent books are GOLDEN STATE (February, 2014)--"a riveting read" (Booklist, starred review) that imagines present-day California on the brink of secession from the United States--and the story collection HUM (March 2014), winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Her previous books are the New York Times bestseller THE YEAR OF FOG (2007), the novels NO ONE YOU KNOW (2008) and DREAM OF THE BLUE ROOM (2003), and the award-winning story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress (2001). She is also the editor of two anthologies: MODERN SHORTS: 18 Stories From Fiction Attic Press (2014) and FLASH IN THE ATTIC: 33 VERY SHORT STORIES (2012).

Michelle grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and has made her home for many years in Northern California. Visit for updates, reading group guides, and social media links.

From the author:
"For me, a novel always begins with a place and a character, and unfolds from there. My first two books are rooted in the Southern landscape of my childhood. Without the place out of which they grew, those books would not exist.

My subsequent books--The Year of Fog, No One You Know, and my forthcoming novel, GOLDEN STATE--could, in my mind, only take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco has been my home for a decade. It's the place that fills my days and my imagination, and it inevitably finds its way into my novels."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James M. Wiggins on February 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An adventure through a tortured soul. Richmond is expert in developing the drama that exposes the sensual desires that Jenny still feels for her lost lover. The fantastic plot turns left me in suspense and wanting more, and more, and more....Not only does Richmond create a vivid drama of the past, but also brings the painful realities of her current relationship with her husband to abrupt confrontation. Jenny's anguish, and attemtps to find emotional escape through her physcial rather than emotional relationships with others, added to the excitement of this artful novel. I can not wait until Richmond's next work comes out, nor until Dream of the Blue Room hits the big screen.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this novel but what kept me going was wondering how the death of Amanda Ruth was going to be resolved. Did the main character do it? Would there be a confession, or was it some unexpected person or the girl's Chinese father. The problem is that nothing ever really happened. Nothing was resolved. I was disappointed with the ending, with everything hanging up in the air, people left with other strangers, trying to drudge up something, but never really having it come to the surface.

The writing was interesting. The short paragraphs and chapters helped to propel me through the book, but my opinion is that there was no real story here, just a listing of feelings, observations and events. I agree with other reviewers about the delightful dream-like quality of some portions of the book.

I was also disappointed with the depth of her observations on China. I mean, I was hoping to actually learn something, to come away with something I didn't know before, but no. I got about the same amount of info that I'd get from reading a Wikipedia piece or some travel book.

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I gave it 4 stars, and I'm not related ...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This novel takes you up the Yangtze River during the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. The descriptions of abandoned villages and bustling riverside cities are lush and unforgettable. But something more is happening in this novel. While the main character, Jenny, travels up the Yangtze, her marriage is falling apart. The dissolution of the marriage is captured with painful accuracy, and the memories of Jenny's adolescent relationship with a girl named Amanda Ruth are both sensual and poignant. Jenny and Amanda Ruth were so close and Jenny's love for her was so strong that, even though Amanda Ruth is dead, she is a constant presence in Jenny's mind.
If you've ever been to China, or if you ever plan to go, this book should be your travel companion!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marie Anne A. on October 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
(I read this book last month, so the details aren't fresh. Still, I was impressed with Richmond's writing that I feel compelled to post a positive review.)

Two Southern girls fall in love and lust during their teen years. One is murdered, the other moves on with her life. She is forever scarred by this murder. Years later, the protagonist is cruising down the waters of China, attempted to put to rest two deaths: her marriage, her former lover. The protagonist spreads the ashes of her teen lover within the waters of China. She also realizes her marriage is over. Her husband is shacking up with a recovering drug addict who sits at their table on the cruise ship. The protagonist is wooed by a handsome older man with ALS. Will they find happiness? ALS kills. Will the protragonist come to terms with her new lover's impending demise?

Against the backdrop of China, with colorful snapshots of the modern communist country, we learn a little about modern Chinese culture, but mostly about love and loss. Richmond interwaves past and present into the novel. We learn of the protagonist's lesbian relationship with her (now deceased) lover. We learn of the impact that China had on her lover, and how "something" Chinese led to her murder.

I appreciated the symbolism of the cruise ship. The ship, ultimately, has maintenance problems. At one point, the passengers are forced to stay on the ship while these problems are fixed- bad food and mindless games to occupy the time. (That's part of life, especially the mindless games we don't want to play, but sometimes there's nothing else we can do.) The Chinese young adults with the Americanized, celebrity-inspired names- we all want to be celebrities- Hollywood celebrities. (There's more symbolism....
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary on July 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third Michelle Richmond novel I have read and perhaps my mistake was in reading them all in a row, so to speak. I quite liked No One You Know so I bought The Year of Fog and Dream of the Blue Room, and have read them in that order, with increasing disappointment. Blue Room is meandering and unresolved, and frankly none of the characters are especially likeable or even believable, particularly the narrator's husband. He's a jerk in my opinion and therefore to me the narrator is less than sympathetic, because why on earth would she be trying to save her marriage to this self-absorbed wanker? It's hard to really care what happens to any of them.

On the plus side, Ms Richmond's writing style is lyrical and evocative, if a bit long-winded at times. Her descriptions of places and events sometimes verged on the poetic. I also got a vivid sense of China as it was experienced by the characters. The short chapters helped move the book along. Hence three stars as opposed to two.

Lastly and least important, but still jarring,is the issue of Ms. Richmond's factual inaccuracies and anachronisms. For example, elephants do not have "cubs", they have "calves" (those who have read Year of Fog know what I mean). Madonna and Andy Gibb were not popular contemporaries. Do some research for the next book, please!
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