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Reality and Dreams Hardcover – April 28, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 2nd edition (April 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395838118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395838112
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,370,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Reality and Dreams, Dame Muriel Spark's twentieth novel, is a masterpiece of restraint. It's a slender book, but such is Spark's skill that the superbly entertaining work conjures wholly the world of its characters with all the clarity and power imaginable from a book of any length. The story casts a famous English film director Tom Richards, his wife Claire, their beautiful daughter Cora and their unbeautiful daughter Marigold, a couple of sons-in-law, friends, et al, in an intelligent, sometimes brutally honest comedy of manners that swirls around Tom's movie projects, everyone's marital infidelities, the growing problem of "redundancy" in the workplace, and the slippery difference between art and life.

From Library Journal

This work is vintage Spark, and to those familiar with this prolific and much-honored author, perhaps that is all that need be said. With the succinctness, clarity, and wit that has long marked her style, she explores the often shadowlike relationship between real life and the creative process. A glimpse of a girl selling hamburgers at a French campground ignites film director Tom Richard's imagination, and around it he builds his latest movie. When the film is still in production, he suffers a serious accident and awakens to find his vision being threatened as others try to take over the story. He also awakens to disruptions in his "real" life?many of those around him are losing their jobs, his daughters' marriages are in the process of breaking up, and long held resentments/ jealousies, both personal and professional, are coming to the surface. The result is a sexual and economic whirlwind that eventually leads to violence?and another film. For the creative artist, everything "in our world...[may] start from a dream," but dreams also start from reality. It is this paradox and its attendant parallels that Spark exposes so astutely and entertainingly in this highly recommended work.
-?David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersberg, Fla.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was an unexpected surprise. I'd read Spark's earliest novels years ago, had only the vague memory that they were enjoyable and well-written. REALITY AND DREAMS is a reminder that Spark is far better than just good. In just 160 pages, she carries off a miracle of imagery, plot twists and character development that swirl about the title's themes and the difficulty that mortals, particularly those engaged in artistic, especially cinematic pursuits, have in distinguishing between the two or understanding how one can beget another. Spark wittily populates her book with a lively, bright ensemble of contemporary British characters whose lives are in one way or another connected with protagonist Tom Richards, a successful movie director. Like most of the characters, he is flawed, but also like most of the characters, there is tension yet some fun in watching him. Appropriate to the theme, Spark creates two films for him to conceive and execute, and such is the power of her vision, they felt real enough that I wanted to see them. She grounds that glamour, however, against the backdrop of contemporary economic realities--redundancy, the British term for unemployment, down-sizing and such becomes a major image and theme as well. Spark's voice is so very truthful throughout, that it is yet another layer of commentary on the relationship between reality and dreams. She can take a bell-clear image, scene or piece of dialogue and make it dense with multiple meaning. Wow! I was very sorry when the book was over.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
The most astonishing thing about Muriel Spark (other than how good she is at what she does) is that she does it so sparingly--she never wastes a word. This novel is no exception. As usual, artistry and creation are central themes, but for Spark they are natural themes, and connected to a startling and authoritative view of reality as an artwork, of God as the truly capable artist and artificer. Spark's characters are always deliciously alive, often malicious, always charming or repulsive as need be; Tom is one of Spark's best male characters--appearing in a role often reserved for a possibly autobiographical female character. Read this book, and then hunt down the rest of Muriel Spark's work and enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Tom Richards is a sixty-three year old film director. He feels like a God up on his crane, shouting orders through his amplifier and, like God, watching the team group and regroup as bidden, especially the stars. So when Tom falls off the crane and breaks twelve ribs as well as his hip, it is quite a tragedy for him.

His new film, Hamburger Girl, is cancelled and then renamed, members of Tom's family vanish then reappear and his life is far from ordinary, something which seems to be the case with most people in the film business.

As Tom says, nothing with him is consistent. It is typical of him and in a way a part of the moves of that world of dreams and reality which he is at home in, the world of filming scenes, casting people in parts, piecing together types, facts and illusions.

At some point Tom says that what he and his crew are doing is real and not real. They live in a world where dreams are reality and reality is dreams. In their world, everything starts from a dream.

A lovely kaleidoscope of witty characters and situations, this novel is thoroughly enjoyable and no doubt shows that the author was still at the top of her form in 1996.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By algo41 on October 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reality and Dreams reminds me of some of the Faye Weldon novels: it has an edge, and characters who are full of life, but not fully realized. If it is a satire, it is more a satire of human nature than of specific cultural norms, although it does reflect a Britain where the social net has frayed. Reality and Dreams is quite readable and sometimes fun, but it is lightweight, and not all that amusing.
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More About the Author

Muriel Spark (1918-2006) was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel in 1957. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), considered her masterpiece, was made into a stage play, a TV series, and a film. Spark became a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.