A young woman’s dream life threatens to permanently alter her day-to-day reality.
In America in the year 2000, a Green Party president is in office. There is peace in the Middle East. Against the backdrop of this “utopian fervor,” 20-something New Yorkers Ben and Kate meet at a party. Ben falls in love with Kate and her eclectic group of friends, who warn Ben that Kate is flighty, impractical, childlike. And, strangest of all, she’s plagued by dreams in which she lives as an Elizabethan Englishwoman in the year 1593 and is convinced when she wakes up that she has traveled in time and somehow changed the future. Newman (The Country of Ice Cream Star, 2015, etc.) weaves back and forth between Kate’s dreams of the 16th century and the 21st century, in which Kate resurfaces from her dreams to find a different government, different wars, a different society, her family altered—and Ben telling her things have always been the way they are now. As Kate grows more and more confused in her waking life, and as the stakes get higher in her dreams, Ben must decide whether or not he can save the woman he loves—and whether she needs saving. Newman is known for her bold imagination, and this kaleidoscopic novel is no exception. Like an apocalyptically tinged version of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Kate and Ben’s love story encompasses difficult questions: What is mental illness? Can art, or love, have power? Is humanity doomed? And if it is, then how do we create a life with meaning? And even though the novel’s dream-logic structure is challenging, Newman’s sentences, like the embroidery Kate practices, pull the story along with their intricate beauty.
A complex, unmissable work from a writer who deserves wide acclaim.