I am delighted to bring you my first book review of 2020. Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau. A historical fiction tale that whisks the reader back to Coney Island in 1911. Thank you to Hannah at Endeavour Quill for the invitation to the book blog tour.
💫 Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau
💫Back of the Book
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.
The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.
But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.
Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.
Extravagant, intoxicating, and thumping with suspense, best selling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class, and dangerous obsession.
💫About the Author
Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the 18th century thriller “The Blue” and the Tudor mystery series The Crown, The Chalice and The Tapestry. She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada and a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.
Nancy, who studied History and Political Science at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle” and “Rolling Stone,” and is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College in New York City. She is a regular contributor to Town & Country.
“The Crown” was placed on the shortlist of the Crime Writers’ Association’s Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.
Nancy lives with her husband and two children in New York City.
💫 Review by Kelly Lacey
The cover of Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau pulled me in. Scandals, Dynasties & Dangerous Secrets…. says the cover, it was a must read for me.
We meet Peggy working in a New York bookshop. In my mind, I started to build up a character that was in a low ranking position and of course she liked books so she was my kind of gal. What came to fruition was that she was, in fact, Margaret Batternberg a 21-year-old heiress. As she is whisked away to a grand hotel in Brooklyn, Coney Island. The other world seems to be calling her but what secrets does it hold and is it safe for Peggy to leave the hotel?
The author has gone to great lengths to present us the reader with as realistic 1911 as possible. Dreamland reads like a classic piece of literature. The details of that world are incredible and I really felt like I had travelled back in time. I was totally sucked into the period and the snobbery of status and the expectations of a lady to always behave and think properly.
Dreamland is a tale of the rich and the poor merging worlds. Dreamland allows Peggy Batternberg to see a whole new world just a few feet from the safety of her opulent and spoiled lifestyle. I really enjoyed the diverse characters and the distinct differences that men and women had at that time. So limiting and scary to be living in a man’s world.
Peggy was my favourite character and I really enjoyed her fighting spirit. The male characters were mostly vile and their sense of entitlement and power was captured perfectly by Ms Bilyeau. It made me realise how “kept” women really were back then and thank god things have changed.
I would have liked to have seen more of the relationship with Peggy and Lawrence. Lawrence is really not part of the second half of the book and I felt that was a shame.
It is an easy enjoyable read with lots of different characters. I loved learning through the author’s notes at the end of the book that some of the characters were based loosely on real life people.
Dreamland was a real amusement park on Coney Island from 1904. Different attractions in the book really did appear in the park. I thought this was wonderful. I found some photographs of the park to share with you.
Overall a really good read, I gave it 3.5 stars and I would definitely add Nancy Bilyeau to my must read authors list.
💫 Buy Link
Add to your shelf today, Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau.
💫 Follow the Tour
💫 Final Thoughts
I loved my time with Dreamland and although I wasn’t around in 1911 I feel like I was transported there for a wee while. With all our health and safety rules now I doubt some of the attractions would be as wild and crazy as they were back then. The Incubator attraction seems to be the one that sticks in my mind. Little premature babies in incubators would be an attraction? I am not sure why maybe because they would be so very little?
If I had a time machine I would most definitely want to woosh back and spend the day on Coney Island, who knows I might catch a glimpse of Stefan or Peggy.