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Dream of the Blue Room Paperback – May 17, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage (May 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159692117X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596921177
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,863,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Laurel-Rain Snow VINE VOICE on April 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jenny, our first person narrator, had been friends with Amanda Ruth Lee since childhood. They grew up together in Alabama, and their days and hours spent in a unique boathouse with a blue room is a time that Jenny often remembers now.

For Amanda Ruth is dead. Murdered 14 years before.

Dream of the Blue Room: A Novel carries us back and forth in time, with the present tense narration our clue to what is going on in Jenny’s world nowadays. She is on a cruise ship, visiting China, as a last remembrance to Amanda Ruth, whose father was Chinese. She is traveling with Dave, her husband, from whom she has been separated for two months, living on separate sides of Central Park in Manhattan. She is carrying Amanda Ruth’s ashes in a unique tin box. Does Jenny hope that the trip will bring her closer to Dave again? Will Dave’s need to “rescue” those around him help them reconnect?

As we learn more about Mr. Lee and his thoughts and feelings toward Amanda Ruth and her sexual orientation, we have to wonder why honoring her father would have been a wish of hers. But sometimes, the mind is a curious thing.

We also see how Jenny and Dave first fell in love, what drew them together, and what has slowly pulled them apart. Does Dave know the secret life that Jenny and Amanda Ruth shared? Did he hope to rescue her from that life?

On the ship, Jenny meets a man named Graham. Theirs is a unique bond that grows with each day. What will Graham ask of Jenny before they part? What will happen to her afterwards?

The story had a mournful tone, with all the dreams and imaginings…and there were a few answers to some crucial questions as we moved along. But were they really answers, or more imaginings? I couldn’t stop reading this book, but it left me feeling disoriented…and a little sad. 4 stars.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When this story begins to evolve, it appears to be just a love story gone wrong, two people trying one last time to save their marriage. But this cruise has other facets, that hide among the words and only become visible when you look deeply into the author's meaning. Enjoy!
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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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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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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....
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