Escaping Dreamland takes us back to New York City during the Gilded Age. It’s 1906 and three people from very different backgrounds find themselves writing a series of children’s books (such as The Hardy Boys). Magda, Tom, and Gene wrote their own books and then banded together for a series called The Tremendous Trio. They each used pseudonyms which was particularly helpful for Magda who was only able to write as a man.
These books had a significant impact on present-day Robert Parrish. They are his main connection to his father as they bonded over reading them and spent time exploring NYC seeking the books’ locations. Robert has published a successful book, but his life has stalled as he becomes obsessed with learning why the books from The Tremendous Trio abruptly stopped publishing.
Through dual timelines, we learn the back stories of each of the writers. I found each of their stories to be interesting and touching. The stories get a little disjointed but stick with it. Each writer finds themselves in the middle of historical events, and they interact with a wide array of noted figures. Magda’s immigrant life was changed by the General Slocum disaster of 1904; Tom escaped from his charmed life where family portraits were painted by John Singer Sargent and his mother planned for him to marry a Vanderbilt. Gene, with a talent for science, was present when Harry Thaw shot and killed Stanford White on the rooftop garden of the original Madison Square Garden. Together they spend a magical day at Coney Island’s Dreamland, which would soon be destroyed by a fire. If this period interests you, check out Escaping Dreamland where you’ll be immersed in New York City history, which remains “the greatest city in the world.”
Many thanks to Edelweiss, Blackstone Publishing, and author Charles Lovett for a copy of this enjoyable book in advance of its publication.
Rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: September 22, 2020.
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