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Dream of the Blue Room

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3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  320 ratings  ·  55 reviews
On a warm night in July, thirty-two-year-old Jenny finds herself sitting on the deck of a Chinese cruise ship next to a charming but secretive stranger. Her husband, Dave, is down in their cabin sleeping, and in Jenny's lap is a cookie tin containing the ashes of her best friend, Amanda Ruth, brutally murdered fourteen years earlier. In this foreign landscape filled with a...more
Paperback, Reprint , 297 pages
Published February 19th 2003 by Bantam
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Elizabeth Sulzby
Oct 15, 2010 Elizabeth Sulzby rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Elizabeth by: no one, just having read others by this author
NOTICE: I tried not to give any spoilers. If other readers think I gave away too much, please let me know and I'll warn other readers.

After Richmond's acclaimed The Year of the Fog, Bantam Books republished her first novel. Bad move. The book should have been massively rewritten.

I went back and skim/scanned throughout the book to be sure I wasn't being too negative. I found the main character to be totally bland and unexplained. Even when she is in life changing situations, the author does not...more
Neena
Ok so a couple trying to repair their broken marriage. How? By sleeping around with fellow travellers on the ship. China politics, graphic details of a past lesbian relationship, racisim, bi-ethnic family issues, assisted suicide and then a mystery for readers to solve; guess the murderer too. There are so many issues author tried to raise, nothing she bothered to explain though. It looks like she wrote different things at different time and then tried to jumble everything together in this book....more
Jen
This book is haunting. And gorgeous. A really great examination of friendship, sexuality, love and loss, all told through a cruise up the Yangtze River, which naturally exposes some truths and questions about China and the modern Chinese culture versus traditional Chinese culture. I was enraptured the whole time I read it - it's one of those books that makes me wish I were a talented writer.
MaryPat
This book had been on my "to read" list for so long that when I finally got around to reading it and read the reviews again, I wasn't sure why I wanted to read it in the first place. It just sounded kinda blah. But I am glad I did read it. Although there is a lot going on, it is a beautifully written story about a young woman on a river cruise on the Yangtze river in China. Jenny is on the river cruise with her estranged husband as a last ditch effort to save her marriage and also to scatter the...more
Christine
I'm not sure where to begin. My first impression was that the book deals with first love and how it has the potential to affect the rest of a person's life. It also brings up the issue of friendship and what we will or won't do for that person. Forgiveness is also a strong theme in the novel. The saddest part of the book is about sexuality. Lack of understanding plays a tragic role. All these things combine to make for a haunting novel set on a river cruise on the Yangtze River as the Three Gorg...more
Fredsky
There's a lot going on in this novel. Richmond loves to go to extremes as she sets up her plots and the history of her characters, and here we have violent death, China, ALS, First Love with Same Sex, and even a nearly extinct species of dolphin. She writes with a clear voice and great energy, making a world, drawing us in, stimulating our minds, and leaving us to find our way home. A 3.8 from my perspective.
Rita_h
Actually 3.5/5
I had mixed emotions on this one.

Pros: Beautifully written, intelligently and emotionally described, set on a cruise ship in China-- a setting I have regretfully not read much about. She also artfully describes (in flashbacks) an innocent but complicated love relationship between the two main female characters when they are teens; one is a lesbian, but her best friend is not-- she only happens to love that one special girlfriend.

Cons: I didn't really emphasize as much as I could h...more
Heidi Willis
I wanted to love this book. Michelle Richmond's command of language and the beautiful way in which she uses it is captivating. She knows how to create a mood with her words and there is a definite mood to this book.

Unfortunately, what the book cover seemed to indicate the book was about wasn't what it really focused on, and as such I felt misled and disappointed.

The overall plot is one of a woman who has set out on a cruise through China with her husband (with whom she has a strained relationsh...more
S
This was a Book Club selection and the author is from San Francisco.
The story of a childhood relationship between two young girls in the South during the Summer time that turns from friendship into a sexual one though Amanda Ruth is truly a Lesbian and the narrator is just experimenting. We learn that Amanda Ruth is brutally murdered and the narrator tells us all of this while she is on a ship going down the Yangtze River in China with her estranged husband looking at all the villages that will...more
Jann
As always seems to be the case with Michelle Richmond, her imagery is a main character. There are so many themes in this book, so many characters seeking different types of redemption. The characters are all likeable and complex without being too unidentifiable. I can identify with elements of all these people. It's hard to pinpoint one thing to love here as there is just so much.

She floats you along the river with these likeable characters and drifts you through this odd landscape by layering...more
Sylvene
I really enjoyed the setting with its descriptions of China. This was an interesting story with a likeable narrator. The theme of the role of memory was explored in a relatable way.
Cindy
This was one of the strangest books I've ever read. I had to force myself to finish it, and when I got to the end it just ended, like the last pages had been torn from the book!
Kristin
I have to say that I liked learning about China and the Yangtzee River more than the story itself, although it was a quick read. I did enjoy the book and the description of China. Jenny and her husband take a last ditch effort to save their marriage by taking a trip to China so that she may scatter her best friends' ashes as she wanted. The marriage doesn't make it and the characters could've been more developed, but I liked how it switched from the present (cruise thru China) to the past with J...more
Becca Evans
I'm glad I'm done with this book. I didn't enjoy and didn't like at all.
Joanne Huspek
Of course, it's awesome. It's Michelle Richmond. Different from her other work, but with the same attention to storyline detail.
Beverly
My cousin loaned me this novel as she wanted to discuss it with me. The writing on the sentence level is solid and pleasurable to read. As the novel reaches its end, the writing becomes more lyrical, as though Richmond had at last reached her stride. Overall, I would have liked greater character development earlier in the novel, including weaving in details that appear towards the end much earlier. This is a book that would sing if the writer had given it one more revision.
Suzanne
As a thirty something women cruises down the Yangtze, to distribute her long dead friend's ashes, we share her painful remembrances of the murdered friend and her longing for her estranged husband who is accompanying her one last time. Nostalgia and memory to the backdrop of a rapidly disappearing Old China, that is about to be flooded into oblivion by a new dam project, this is a poignant story of loss and redemption.
Arnetta
Interesting book. Learned more about China and The Three Gorges Dam. Interested i immediately googled it to learn that it's had 2 earthquakes in area in last 3 days...many believe the reservoir itself is the cause for the earthquakes. Quite fascinating the path the book took me on. Book makes one think about life, and death, and relationships. It caused some self examination for me, made me rethink things.
Lisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara
I have been married for 13 years and I found her ambivalence to her husband's actions disturbing. But they are in a different place in their relationship and maybe you put up with more in your hope to save the marriage.

I loved the descriptions of China and what a different world it is from mine.

I did a lot of guessing about who murdered Amanda Ruth.
Patti
I had read Richmond's more recent novels, No One You Know and The Year of Fog. Both were spectacular. Dream of the Blue Room was her first novel, and while it is well written, it may be difficult for some readers...graphic lesbian sex, racism, assisted suicide and Chinese politics are some of the issues raised in this complex, gripping novel.
Allison
By topic I wouldn't guess I would have liked this book but this is now the second Michelle Richmond book I've read and both of them read easily. I don't know if I can call this one enjoyable (story with a murdered friend, dying marriage, adultery and euthanasia) but the flow of the language was. I will think about this book for a while!
Corie
I liked this book. It always kept you going there really wasnt any boring parts. I did not really understand Jenny's relationship with her husband Dave. I don't know who would let their husband act the way this guy did with those girls who he claimed "needed" him! That was the only annoying part. I acctually didnt care for the ending either!
Hannah
nu-uh. didn't even recognize it from the author's other works. and there's no way of knowing from the cover that the heroine is a creepy lesbian as a girl, growing up to be a woman who despises her husband for stuff that is also her fault. I only got a few pages in before I got frustrated and closed it. For good.
Anita Scarborough
Not my cup of tea. Well written and the scenes of China redeemed the book to me somewhat. But, plot-wise and character development were nothing I felt worth my time. Too many aspects added purely for shock value that were damaging to my enjoyment of the book or my ability to connect and care for the characters.
Kathy
I first read Richmond's The Year of Fog and really liked it, so backtracked to this one, her debut novel. It was ok, but I didn't love it. It is set in China and I think that it what I didn't love. It was hard for me to get really invested in the characters, though the writing was strong.
Laurie
I thought this book was going to be a real good read and while I did enjoy many aspects of it I did not enjoy the storyline. A couple goes on an excursion with the intention of spreading ashes of a murdered friend and at the same time work on their marriage. So why sleep with other peeople??
Pmcdnld2
This is an old book by Richmond recently reissued. An American woman and her estranged husband travel throgh China so she can spread the ashes of her childhood "best friend" who had been murdered years ago. Great descriptions of life in China-many surprises and much to think about.
Sara
After loving the Year of Fog so much, I was pretty disappointed in this one. I like believability and throughout reading this book I kept saying to myself "that would never happen." It isn't that I don't like unpredictable, I do, I just don't like contrived, which this was.
Erin
Very dark and disturbing novel about a woman on a cruise in China with her soon to be ex-husband for the purpose of scattering her dead best friend/lesbian lover's ashes. Excellent descriptions of the China we don't think about and great atmosphere. Disturbing subplot too.
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84728
I grew up in Alabama and have lived in Northern California for fifteen years. My books include the novels Golden State, The Year of Fog, No One You Know, and Dream of the Blue Room, and the story collections Hum and The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress.

I have a monthly newsletter, and I'd love to send it to you! It includes notes what I'm reading, dispatches from the writing life, and book giveaways. Y...more
More about Michelle Richmond...
The Year of Fog No One You Know Golden State The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress Day 49: The Missing Final Chapter of The Year of Fog

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