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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,463 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mary Doria Russell Narrator: Ann Marie Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2008 ISBN: 9780739358405
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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 forty-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 Shapostrozny | 2/19/2014

    " This author who also wrote the Sparrow has a unique style being a former archeologist she combines fact (history) w/fiction. Good book and easy reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen McRae | 2/13/2014

    " I enjoyed this tale of British interference in the middle east.The story is told through a woman's eyes and is set in the early 1920's.It is the creation of the modern middle east at the 1921 Cairo peace conference where far reaching decisions were made.The narrator was interesting in that she was an intelligent woman who grew up feeling out of sync with the world she was born into but was able to gain insight through travel and people she encountered. She became free and better still a free thinker. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kennedy | 2/13/2014

    " Really fun, perfect pitch for most of the book. You learn a lot about the modern middle east without even trying. She's very skilled, very polished, very assured. Very accessible style. I almost gave it 5 stars "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 LD | 2/9/2014

    " I enjoyed the book from the standpoint of learning some interesting history. As with other historical fiction, i.e.,the blend of factual with the fictitious, it made me curious enough to continue my reading pursuits that included biographies of Gertrude Bell and Lawrence of Arabia and a book on the friendship between Churchill and Roosevelt. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy DeMordaunt | 2/5/2014

    " Historical fiction--what fun. Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill and Lady Gertrude Bell were all interestingly interwoven in this tale of longing for love. This was read by the book club from the Emergency Dept. where I work, so was fun for me to read their recommendation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne Van | 1/2/2014

    " Dippy writing, but an interesting peak into the European decision makers at the Cairo conference in 1921 that made far reaching decisions about the Middle East. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Terry Larson | 12/25/2013

    " Fun read. History was interesting and liked characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crystal | 11/20/2013

    " I enjoyed this novel more than I thought I would. And I learned quite a bit as well about the politics that shaped the Middle East as it exists today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debfagan | 11/14/2013

    " Good writing, amusing, and educational about how the Middle East was carved up in the early 20th century. I didn't know that much about Lawrence of Arabia beforehand - fascinating. We need HIM to come back... Good historical novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 sharan | 10/11/2013

    " book club read. by author of Sparrow and Children of God. i loved the ending! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane Woodruff | 10/2/2013

    " This is a historical novel about a spinster schoolteacher who is left an inheritance. She follows her dream of a trip to Egypt with her dog, Rosie. It is set during the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference which established the boundaries of the Middle East. Entertaining and informative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shrop | 9/28/2013

    " I was a fan of The Sparrow (also by MDR) and this book is totally different but just as engaging. I'd describe it as historical fiction with a tad of pragmatic romance thrown in there too. Enjoyable read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 9/22/2013

    " I liked this book! About a spinster "nobody" who decides to take her small inheritance (after her entire family dies of influenza) and travel to Egypt. She rubs shoulders with famous people of the day and they actually like her company, something she can hardly believe. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diana | 8/31/2013

    " 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sheri faulk | 7/23/2013

    " Took me a while to get into this book, but am liking it better now. Wasn't that bad, slow at first, but maybe because I kept having to put down to do something. :) Fair. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeni | 7/11/2013

    " Book Group- Still reading, but completely involved. Great historical fiction with interesting characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cace | 12/15/2012

    " I didn't enjoy this as much as "A Thread of Grace", but still very good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 8/28/2012

    " A surprisingly delightful story of a woman who comes of age intellectually and emotionally just after WWI in Cairo. She lives thru a historical event with a meeting of dignitaries who essentially divide the middle east. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Choco-cat | 8/10/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book. There was a segment of it that I felt didn't quite fit in with the rest, but was still good. I love learning history through historical fiction - in this book I got to hear a bit about the Flu Epidemic of 1918 and the Cairo Peace Conference. fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 7/9/2011

    " I liked this book, though maybe not as much as I've enjoyed her others. I did learn a lot, which is a plus...I need to look several things up on wikipedia to refresh my history...which is always good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mkb | 6/24/2011

    " I enjoyed this very much, even though it didn't knock me out the way The Sparrow, Doc, or Thread of Grace did. I think it is a lighter, more whimsical book thatn the others I have read by MDR, but there is definitely a place for it on my shelves. "

  • 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.