Novel set on Coney Island NY- Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau
Bookreview of Nancy Bilyeau’s Dreamland set in Coney Island
Roll up if you want to read a novel which magically transports you to the island of all things Dreamlike! Dreamland was a famous amusement park in 1900’s New York society. It’s where everyone wanted to be, where everyone came to have fun. Some of them left home and came to work here, chasing their dreams. But where dreams are, there are also sometimes nightmares.
This novel follows an heiress (think the Vanderbilts) as she discovers what Dreamland could mean for her.
Very much an atmospheric novel and one to dive into (from a trapeze) as there’s racial and social tensions, the problems immigration and wealth can bring,
If there’s a kind of novel I get very excited about is when I get to travel back in time to a place I would have loved to have visited for real. Dreamland is set firmly in America’s golden age and at the heart of Coney Island. A ticket back in time to 1911 you say? I’m there!
Dreamland was one of three theme parks which became known as America’s playground. The hedonism, the parties, the promises! It sadly burned down in 1911 but the author has brought it back to sizzling life! You can tell she’s been there and I half suspect she has a time machine and that she went in a crinolene dress such is the attention to detail that this novel immerses you inside.
Imagine being on the cusp of your new life at a time that America was changing. Peggy in the novel is an heiress so think of the Vanderbilts and all that jazz and it’s a whirlwind ride. It’s a time of changing morals, women’s freedoms, how women were supposed to act and how rich heiresses were supposed to act in particular. Family dynamics are interesting!
And that’s not all this novel is. There are some really juicy themes such as the place and role of foreigners in America, settling in to a new country and place, class barriers etc. The characters, issues and backdrop all combine to a magically captivating effect and I was totally captivated.
Can I just say that the day she went against her family and got a job in a bookstore I cheered! Just one of many little details and nuances that makes this book shine.