EXCERPT: When the phone rings in the middle of the night, that very night, and Aileen, who tends to doze, does not answer it within three rings, Gerry fumbles for the landline next to his bed, a midcentury Swedish design with a button on the bottom. His head feels cloudy, yet he is alert enough to assume the call will be from Margot, full of recriminations for being booked in business class, which means she has to fetch her own cheese plate from the snack bar.
‘Gerry? I’m coming to see you soon.’
‘Who is this?’ Because one thing he is sure of is that it’s not Margot. The voice is too sweet, too high, with a hint of a Southern accent. Also too nice.
‘Oh, Gerry, you’re so funny. It’s Aubrey, Gerry. We need to talk. About my story, about what really happened between us, that mess with your wife. I think it’s time the world knows I’m a real person.’
ABOUT ‘DREAM GIRL’: After being injured in a freak accident, novelist Gerry Andersen lies in a hospital bed in his glamorous but sterile apartment, isolated from the busy world he can see through his windows, utterly dependent on two women he barely knows: his young assistant and a night nurse whose competency he questions.
But Gerry is also beginning to question his own competency. As he moves in and out of dreamlike memories and seemingly random appearances of a persistent ex-girlfriend at his bedside, he fears he may be losing his grip on reality, much like his mother who recently passed away from dementia.
Most distressing, he believes he’s being plagued by strange telephone calls, in which a woman claiming to be the titular character of his hit novel Dream Girl swears she will be coming to see him soon. The character is completely fictitious, but no one has ever believed Gerry when he makes that claim. Is he the victim of a cruel prank—or is he actually losing his mind★ There is no record of the calls according to the log on his phone. Could there be someone he has wronged★ Is someone coming to do him harm as he lies helplessly in bed★
Then comes the morning he wakes up next to a dead body—and realizes his nightmare is just beginning…
MY THOUGHTS: In her author’s notes, Laura Lippman writes, ‘This is a book about what goes on inside a writer’s mind and it is, by my lights, my first work of horror.’ And while I wouldn’t go quite so far as to call Dream Girl a work of horror, it definitely is an enjoyable romp on the darker side. Lippman pays homage to Stephen King’s ‘Misery’, Roth’s ‘Zuckerman Unbound’, and Dukore’s ‘A Novel Called Heritage’, saying that she ‘wanted to further the conversations they began in her head.’ I know exactly what she means.
Lippman’s writing is distinctive. She does a lot of the things I hate and slam other authors for doing. She waffles on in long sentences. She writes stream of consciousness. And I love it. It works – brilliantly. I read Dream Girl in twenty-four hours and Lippman has left me wanting to read Gerry Anderson’s ‘Dream Girl’. I want to read about Aubrey, this elusive figment of Anderson’s (and therefore Lippman’s) imagination – the character that nobody will believe wasn’t real.
Lippman’s characters are extraordinary, and the cast is quite small. Women feature hugely in Gerry’s life. He’s been married three times, and Margot lived with him in New York for several years. He has a female assistant, Victoria, who has the annoying tic of never being able to make a declarative statement, and whose duties expand following his accident to include being his daytime carer. Aileen is employed as his somewhat incompetent and constantly knitting night nurse. Gerry doesn’t appear to have friends, and there’s a dearth of males in his life with the exception of his literary agent. We learn Gerry’s backstory through a dual timeline that is interspersed with his ‘now’ story. We meet his wives and his lovers, but disappointingly learn almost nothing about the writing of his bestseller, ‘Dream Girl.’ Yes, I think I have an obsession with Audrey.
As you may have noticed, I had a hard time putting Dream Girl down, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I honestly had no idea where Lippman was heading with the plot, who was behind the mystery calls, if they were even real, or merely a product of Gerry’s opioid addled brain.
A few people appear to have been disappointed in the ending. I loved it. It seemed strangely fitting. A little comedic. I would love to see Dream Girl made into a movie. I would definitely go to see it.
I: @lauramlippman @faberbooks
T: @LauraMLippman @FaberBooks
THE AUTHOR: Laura lives in Baltimore with her husband, David Simon, and their daughter.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber and Faber Ltd via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Dream Girl by Laura Lippman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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