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Drives Like a Dream: A Novel Hardcover – March 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618143319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618143313
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,192,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After his well-received, quirky 2000 debut, The Obituary Writer, Shreve succumbs to the sophomore slump with a dull and far-fetched follow-up. Cars are in Lydia Modine's blood: her father had worked for Ford, Tucker and GM, she's an expert on his former boss, Preston Tucker, and she still lives right outside a tarnished and crumbling Detroit. Now divorced after 33 years of marriage, Lydia, a "social historian of the automobile," sees too many parallels between herself and the subject of her fifth book: " 'planned obsolescence.' Out with the old, in with the new." In the wake of her ex-husband Cy's wedding to a younger woman, 61-year-old Lydia is desperate to escape her sense of loss and restore a sense of family with her three grown children. Shreve's considerable historical research is obvious and admirable, but unless the reader is fascinated by the car industry, it will seem like overkill. Leads that could have been interesting remain unpursued, while an unlikely relationship between Lydia and Cy's new in-laws is developed. Also unlikely is Lydia's scheme to lure her children back home, which borders on the slapstick. Shreve shows promise with some strong character writing, but erratic storytelling, a hasty conclusion and a surfeit of auto lore stall the tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Renowned car historian Lydia Modine is not prepared for what her later years have in store. She had assumed that her family would stay together. Her three grown children would find jobs close to home in suburban Detroit while she and her husband, Cy, got reacquainted. Instead, Lydia's children have scattered to different parts of the country, and her husband of 33 years--now her ex--is getting married to a woman half his age. To escape, Lydia pours herself into a book project about her father's distinguished career as a car designer--first for Preston Tucker and later for GM--and she unearths some potentially damning information. For decades a conspiracy theory had circulated that Tucker had been sabotaged by a former employee who gave away his secrets to the big three automakers. Gradually, Lydia realized that her father might have been the saboteur. As her convictions crumble, Lydia behaves increasingly erratically. How her family contends with the seismic shifts in her personality and her eventual stabilization makes this an affecting character-driven novel. Jerry Eberle
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Porter Shreve grew up in Washington, DC, and has lived in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Missouri, England, Israel, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, and California. For several years in his twenties he worked on the night city desk at the Washington Post, and to psyche himself up for the long haul of writing books, he rode a bike from Washington State to Massachusetts.

His first novel, The Obituary Writer (2000), was a New York Times Notable Book; his second and third, Drives Like a Dream (2005) and When the White House Was Ours (2008), were Chicago Tribune Books of the Year; and his fourth, The End of the Book, was just published in February. He has coedited six anthologies and published fiction, nonfiction, Op-Eds and book reviews in many journals, magazines and newspapers, including Witness, Northwest Review, Salon, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

He has been featured or interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition and the Diane Rehm Show, among other programs, and he has taught at a number of universities, including the University of Michigan, Purdue and the University of San Francisco. He lives with his wife, writer Bich Minh Nguyen, and their two children in the Bay Area.

Customer Reviews

She's fun like that.
Kel C
This is a novel about character, and if you're the kind of reader with a compassion for people, accepting all their flaws, this is your kind of book.
C. Fisher
I was left exasperated by a book that ended by abruptly running out of words, explaining nothing.
bookluver

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Abigail L. on March 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Washington Post recently ran a terrific review of this book. It was total praise and made the book sound right up my alley: the perfect combination of funny and sad, a story about a mother who loses her head after her children and ex-husband move away. So when I pulled up this page on Amazon I was surprised by the review from Publisher's Weekly. It couldn't be more opposite from what the Washington Post had to say. Really odd, like the person who wrote it read a completely different book. I bought the novel anyway because I know the Post and have relied on their reviews before. I couldn't be happier that I did: this book is a gem. The writing is beautiful and wise, and the characters rang true to life, especially the manipulation tactics and struggles between the mother and daughter, Lydia and Jessica. There are also hilarious other characters in the book. I loved M.J. Spivey, who delivers one zinger after the next. But the book really belongs to Lydia. At one point she tells a huge lie in order to get her kids to come back home to Detroit. This was very daring of the author, I thought. But it also made perfect sense. I felt so much a part of Lydia's plan because the book stays close to her emotions and thoughts. I was rooting for her. The story the author tells is one that's all too familiar: a smart woman left behind by her children, and now her ex-husband has quickly remarried someone else (younger, naturally). She has to figure out her life, her family, her career all over again. It's a great ride all the way to the end, full of hope and regret and complicated relationships. This is an excellent and memorable book, one I'm going to recommend to friends.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Fisher on May 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because it's set near where I live. The main character's house is only a couple miles from me. I'm also a mom of a certain age, much of my family has worked in the car industry, and it's my turn to pick a title for our book club. But when I finished Drives Like a Dream I wouldn't have cared if the book had been set in Alaska or Bulgaria and had nothing to do with cars -- I still would have connected with it just as well. This is a novel about character, and if you're the kind of reader with a compassion for people, accepting all their flaws, this is your kind of book.

What I thought was particularly great was the way the author managed to be both funny and sad at the same time. I felt both emotions, often simultaneously, when I read the book, which must be the reason why it seemed so true. My heart went out for Lydia and her obsession to keep her kids nearby, but she's also hilarious -- often accidentally -- in the extremes she goes to. She meets this horrible car-designing guy named Norm and suffers through what has to be one of the worst dates in the history of fiction. But after great trials she somehow manages to triumph and make peace with her kids. The last lines of the book -- I won't give them away -- could be read as either a new beginning for Lydia or a recognition that a chapter of her life has come to an end. Full of hope but with some despair, too. Like life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kel C on May 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My mom gave me this book for Mother's Day. She's fun like that. She said that Lydia and Jessica, the mother and daughter in the book, reminded her of our relationship. Hm. So I read the book and was surprised to see that a male writer could capture a mother and daughter relationship so well. It was pretty amazing: the way they fought, the passive-aggresive stuff, the resentment, communication, and the love too. It's complicated and delicate and Shreve obviously understands that. The book turns out to be a family novel with quiet and powerful emotion. There's humor, too - loved the Spiveys! - and it all adds up to something that kind of hums. I'm passing this book on to my best friend, who has an even more complicated relationship with her mother.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin/poppymom on May 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved the premise of this book - linking the downfall of a city and industry to the downfall of a family entrenched in its history. The execution could have been much better, though. It was a good idea and worked in the beginning. Having spent time in Detroit, I liked the settings. Shreve did a decent job of bringing the city to life on the pages. When I'm in Royal Oak and downtown next month, I know I'll be looking for sights mentioned in the book.

The characters were shallow, barely more than cliches. In the beginning I liked Lydia and sympathized with her, but quickly lost patience for the far-fetched lies she created. She became as unlikeable as her wishy-washy ex-husband and immature, bratty daughter. As for her sons, they were little more than character sketches that didn't illicit much in the way of emotional connection.

And the ending? Please. That was one of the most sloppy, lazy endings I have ever read. The ending ruined the whole experience for me. I didn't get the feeling that the characters learned much from their experience.

I wanted to like this book. Really, I did.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vic on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
An excellent book by an excellent writer. Shreve tries something new every time out. I heard him read at the U of M a couple weeks ago from a new novel. I don't know when it comes out, but I can relate to the title: When the White House was Ours. It's from the p.o.v. of a 12 yr old boy. Quite a leap from the 60 yr old heroine of Drives Like a Dream. But theres something holding all the books together, humor, affection for people, readability. Check out The Obituary Writer, too. It's about a greenhorn reporter who gets snared in a black widow's web.
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