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Extended Audio Sample Dreamers of the Day: A Novel Audiobook, by Mary Doria Russell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.69 out of 53.69 out of 53.69 out of 53.69 out of 53.69 out of 5 3.69 (29 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mary Doria Russell Narrator: Ann Marie Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2008 ISBN: 9781415948040
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I suppose I ought to warn you at the outset that my present circumstances are puzzling, even to me. Nevertheless, I am sure of this much: My little story has become your history. You won't really understand your times until you understand mine.

So begins the account of Agnes Shanklin, the charmingly diffident narrator of Mary Doria Russell's compelling new novel Dreamers of the Day. And what is Miss Shanklin's "little story"? Nothing less than the creation of the modern Middle East at the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, where Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence, and Lady Gertrude Bell met to decide the fate of the Arab world - and of our own.

A 40-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio still reeling from the tragedies of the Great War and the influenza epidemic, Agnes has come into a modest inheritance that allows her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt and the Holy Land. Arriving at the Semiramis Hotel just as the Peace Conference convenes, Agnes, with her plainspoken American opinions - and a small, noisy dachshund named Rosie - enters into the company of the historic luminaries who will, in the space of a few days at a hotel in Cairo, invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.

Neither a pawn nor a participant at the conference, Agnes is ostensibly insignificant, and that makes her a welcome sounding board for Churchill, Lawrence, and Bell. It also makes her unexpectedly attractive to the charismatic German spy Karl Weilbacher. As Agnes observes the tumultuous inner workings of nation-building, she is drawn more and more deeply into geopolitical intrigue and toward a personal awakening.

With prose as graceful and effortless as a seductive float down the Nile, Mary Doria Russell illuminates the long, rich history of the Middle East with a story that brilliantly elucidates today's headlines. As enlightening as it is entertaining, Dreamers of the Day is a memorable, passionate, gorgeously written novel.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie | 2/17/2014

    " hmm, a fast curious read. Poignant in a nostalgic, naive, way. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Monique Vincent | 2/6/2014

    " after being drawn into The Sparrow so completely, this was a bit of a disappointment. Felt like her priorities rested more with a strong desire to get her history lesson across than tell a very good story. The fictional characters were fun, though the historical characters just felt too cameo. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ray | 2/5/2014

    " By the author of The Sparrow (a flawed though thought-provoking book) comes this historical fiction set at the Cairo Conference in 1921. Well worth a read if you are interested in the Middle East and Egypt. However the task of balancing historical event's exposition and the construction of a plot was tricky here. I enjoyed the character Russell created in Agnes but it wasn't ultimately satisfying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chrissie | 2/2/2014

    " Books like this make history simple to remember. Further, indepth historical info can be easily found at Wikipedia. If you just read Wikepedia, the facts have a tendency to just disappear. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mandy | 1/26/2014

    " I like to read historical fiction and in that area, this was an interesting book. The main character is placed in Egypt in a time (just post WW1) when a lot of decisions were being made about the middle east. Listening to the headlines in the news today, I now know a little more of the history behind what is to me a complicated topic. Like most good historical fictions, this one has caused me to want to learn more about this particular event in history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheryl S. | 1/25/2014

    " Sadly this is my least favorite of the 4 Russell books I have read. I thought the other three were outstanding. Just didn't engage with the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/15/2014

    " Brilliant writing and so much history. The book was easy to put down which made it a long read, but it was worth finishing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith | 1/13/2014

    " A spinster travels to Egypt, meets Churchill and Laurence of Arabia and witnesses the partitioning of the Middle East. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Sitrick | 12/12/2013

    " Loved this book! The factually accurate characters drawn into to a fictional story through an old photograph was appealing to a curious, imaginative soul like me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Power | 10/21/2013

    " Loved it. I loved the characters, I loved the story line. The whole book was amazing. I have become a huge Mary Doria Russell fan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 10/15/2013

    " It's hard to tell about this book without giving away too much. It takes a young girl from Cleveland through her youth, the great Spanish flu, WWI, travels to Egypt, the Great Depression and finally her return to Egypt. Ms. Russell is quite an interesting storyteller. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul | 10/10/2013

    " Very well written; the ending didn't work for me. I didn't like the lecture at the end. But my standard for her is high, as I still keep coming back to The Sparrow as one of my favorite books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharon Lawrence | 4/14/2013

    " Interesting novel. Enjoyed the developing story but the last part of the book was disappointing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 12/25/2012

    " Very interesting work of historical fiction -- well researched and well written. Exemplifies the adage that history repeats itself. I have loved each of her books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa B. | 12/8/2012

    " I read this book a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. It is one of the few books I would probably be willing to read a second time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 9/20/2012

    " Beautiful descriptive writing, appealing characters, learned a lot about the Cairo Conference and the European organization of the middle east after WWII. I think I'm now a big fan of Mary Russell. - looking forward to reading some of her other books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Denise | 7/9/2012

    " Really liked the book ~ what a great way to learn history (ie romance & the human spirit). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cooper Renner | 7/7/2012

    " Breezy and entertaining look at a spinster's trip to Egypt in 1921, with an especially interesting portrait of TE Lawrence. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ferree | 5/13/2012

    " I heard Mary Doria Russell speak and would now like to read The Sparrow and some of her other books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emily Levine | 9/6/2011

    " I like historical fiction, it was fun to read about Lawrence and Churchill. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 5/5/2011

    " The rather strange ending of this book kept me from giving it four stars. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie | 4/23/2011

    " And THIS is why I rented Lawrence of Arabia and am reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Not as mind stretching as The Sparrow but still an intriguing read set in an interesting time and place. Made me want to travel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corey | 4/16/2011

    " I think this book is excellent, and I am looking forward to reading it again! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marie | 3/26/2011

    " Not as academic as Desert Queen about early 1920's and dividing up the Middle East after WWI.
    Makes me curious about Lawrence of Arabia, ladies salons at stockbroker offices in the Roaring 20's and the Great Influenza Plague of early 1900's. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 3/25/2011

    " Historical romance based in Egypt in the 1920s. Quite interesting and realistic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mslogar | 3/24/2011

    " This was a Book Club pick-- to be honest, I would never have picked this book on my own. However, it was a pleasant surprise! The main character is a delight! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 3/9/2011

    " Nice to read something by Russell again. Got a bit mired in the middle east politics, though. Enjoyed the interpersonal relationships and the travelogue sections. Ready to jump into "Thread of Grace" by same author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa B. | 3/5/2011

    " I read this book a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. It is one of the few books I would probably be willing to read a second time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie | 2/19/2011

    " very interesting historical fiction - good background in the history of the current turmoil "

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About the Author
Author Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell is the author of several books, including The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, and Dreamers of the Day. Her novels have won national and international literary awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the James Tiptree Award, and the American Library Association Readers Choice Award. The Sparrow was selected as one of Entertainment Weekly’s ten best books of the year, and A Thread of Grace was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

About the Narrator

Ann Marie Lee is a seven-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award for narration. She is a Los Angeles–based actress with television credits that include ER, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Nip/Tuck. Her stage performances for Broadway National Tours and regional theater include Peter Pan, As You Like It, Heartbreak House, and The Cherry Orchard.