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category: Fiction
published: Aug 2007

The Law of Dreams

by Peter Behrens

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literary, historical, sagas
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $18.95
also available: eBook eBook
category: Fiction
published: Aug 2007

Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction. Peter Behrens's bestselling novel is gorgeously written, Homeric in scope, and haunting in its depiction of a young man's perilous journey from innocence to experience.

The Law of Dreams follows Fergus O'Brien from Ireland to Liverpool and Wales during the Great Potato Famine of 1847, and then beyond -- to a harrowing Atlantic crossing to Montreal. On the way, Fergus loses his family, discovers a teeming world beyond the hill farm where he was born, and experiences three great loves.

About the Author
Peter Behrens is a novelist and short-story writer who won the 2006 Governor General's Award for fiction. He lives in Maine, USA. Visit Peter Behrens' website: http://www.peterbehrens.org Visit Peter Behrens' blog: http://www.autoliterate.blogspot.com/ Follow Peter Behrens on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/phbehrens
Author profile page >
  • Short-listed, Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award
  • Short-listed, CBA Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year
  • Short-listed, Commonwealth Writers' Prize - Best Book
  • Short-listed, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Awards: Fiction
Editorial Reviews

...a compelling read, notable for its spare, lyrical use of language.

— Montreal Gazette

...an absorbing, unsparing and beautifully written account of one man's escape from the charnel house that Ireland became.

— New York Times

The Law of Dreams lowers a tape recorder into the pit of history. All that was lost, everything we've forgotten, is suddenly restored. The research is prodigious, the story is epic, the structure is bold, and the ancient language is something new and wondrous to our ears.

— Clark Blaise

The Law of Dreams is the best literary adventure novel I've read since Lonesome Dove, a brilliant heart-felt celebration of the capacity of the human spirit.

— Howard Mosher

This book is a beautifully written, poetically inspired tale of heroism, love, yes and sex, and the triumph of the human spirit over murderous greed. It's a long road that Behrens makes shorter with many a surprising turn. The Law of Dreams is one great book. I stayed up into the wee hours to finish it. I envy you this journey.

— Malachy McCourt

...enjoy the sprawling, cinematically rendered immigrant story.

— Publishers Weekly

Inspired by his own family history, Behrens has fashioned a paean to the strength of the human spirit that illuminates a piece of history. The law of dreams is to keep moving, and that's what Fergus does, taking advantage of opportunities even as he is haunted by dreams and hurt by betrayal. Behrens tells this story in spare prose that distills ideas to their essence, making this absorbing historical fiction.

— Booklist

A lengthy yet surprisingly fast-moving story, The Law of Dreams is sure to establish this Canadian writer as a serious literary talent...Behrens' use of crisp dialogue clearly conveys the fear, the longing and the unbridled hope of a young man teetering on the brink between starvation and salvation. But it is in his economical narrative that Behrens truly shines. 'Life honed to the very edge. Sharpened on a whetstone. Chopping through the days. Working time like it was a sweep of hay.'

— Winnipeg Free Press

One of the many fine things about Peter Behrens' stunningly lyric first novel, The Law of Dreams, is that it is emphatically a story of that great hunger, a work of richly empathetic imagination that reminds us once again of how powerful historical fiction can be in skilled hands. In fact, the story has a factual and emotional authenticity that calls to mind the similarly masterful debut Thomas Flanagan made with his now classic novel of Irish history, The Year of the French.

— LA Times

From a mountaintop in Ireland to the beckoning promise of America, there are scenes that will remain imprinted upon the reader's mind. Peter Behrens is a tremendously talented writer.

— Alistair MacLeod

...The Law of Dreams rings with a strange, hard poetry, a mingling of Behrens's rich narrative voice and scraps of startling wisdom that seem to emanate directly from Fergus's mind...In the life of this determined young man, Behrens illuminates one of the 19th century's greatest tragedies and the massive migration it launched. A novel that animates the past this vibrantly should make volumes of mere history blush. 'Life burns hot,' Fergus thinks, and so do these pages.

— Washington Post

...Behrens has fashioned a beautiful idiom for his book, studded with slippery archaisms and mournful, musical refrains...the language and the things it describes seem to be spun out of a single material. And we move through it as willingly, or compulsively, as the protagonist, the wind of love and hate at our backs.

— Newsday

...there is much in The Law of Dreams...to excite admiration.

— Literary Review of Canada

An emotional epic bearing echoes of Melville and Ondaatje, conveying scents and shimmers of a vanished world under the skin of our own.

— Jonathan Lethem

An action-driven tale stuffed with fascinating historical research.

— National Post

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