A debut novel that uses the world of dreams to upend the life of an otherwise ordinary housewife.
Since Rose was 6 years old she has dreamed every night of the same place: a magical island on which the only other person is a boy named Hugo. In her dreams, Hugo and Rose grow into adults at the same rate that Rose grows in real life, but everything else on the island stays much the same, and they adventure blissfully together each time she sleeps. But by the time Rose is a mother with three small children and a surgeon husband who is rarely home, she starts to resent her waking life. On the island, she's still svelte, energetic, and happy—her best self. At home, she's overweight, overworked, and overtired. On a particularly rough day, when nothing is going well, she chances upon Hugo in the real world. Like Rose, this version of Hugo bears the markings of real life—he is older, paunchy, and has glasses. But Rose knows it’s him and soon he knows it’s her, as well. The two discover that the dreams have been shared all along. A more pastoral-minded author might take this twist in its obvious, romantic direction, but Foley makes it clear that there will be no easy way out of this surprising clash of lives; both Rose’s dreams and her waking life take on dark, unsettling elements. None of the adults in this book—Hugo, Rose, or Rose’s husband, Josh—behave particularly thoughtfully or well, which contributes high drama but makes them difficult to root for. Rose, especially, is a character that things happen to, even on the island, and her lack of agency is frustrating. But the island itself is a strikingly believable dreamscape, and the passages that take place there have a satisfying flavor.
Despite a tendency to dwell on emotional explanations, Foley delivers a compelling tale.