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Lincoln's Dreams

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,070 Ratings  ·  262 Reviews
"A novel of classical proportions and virtues...humane and moving."–The Washington Post Book World

"A love story on more than one level, and Ms. Willis does justice to them all. It was only toward the end of the book that I realized how much tension had been generated, how engrossed I was in the characters, how much I cared about their fates."–The New York Times Book Review
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ebook, 256 pages
Published December 23rd 2009 by Spectra (first published 1987)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah
I have a few issues with this book. I enjoyed it but it is probably my least favorite Willis.
Things she did right:
The historical research, as always, was top notch. The Civil War scenes felt real and immediate and personal. Of all of the characters in the novel, it was Robert E Lee that resonated with me the most. And Traveller, of course.

The book is well written and has a fascinating semblance of action despite the presence of the usual Willis running-back-and-forth business and the usual ship
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Myridian
Mar 22, 2008 Myridian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book out on the strength of its Amazon reviews. I was sadly disappointed. Perhaps it's just that I don't find anything about the Civil War particularly compelling. Perhaps it's that the female character was too much of a shadow figure. Perhaps (and I favor this explanation) it's just that this book wasn't well written. The main character is a researcher for a man who writes novels about the Civil War. He meets a young woman who is having the dreams of Robert E. Lee and is immediately ...more
Keith
Lincoln's Dreams

This is book with a divided fan base. On GoodReads most of the reviewers love Connie Willis but few seem to love Lincoln's Dreams. This review is the result of a second read for me. Life many others Connie Willis is one of my favorite writers. I've read six of her other novels, five of them part of the Oxford time travel series, and all were entertainingly brilliant. Part of Willis's great virtue as a writer, especially as a science fiction writer, is that her works are deeply hu
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Trin
Feb 11, 2008 Trin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually love Connie Willis, but this novel failed to click for me. I had several problems: first, Willis asks readers to sympathize with Robert E. Lee, a lot. But even though Americans of my generation are kind of trained, from elementary school on up, to think of Lee as not such a bad guy, my sympathy, frankly, cuts off after a certain point. (Totally different debate here, but: blah blah blah duty, yeah sure; but basic morality trumps duty, okay?) More significant, probably, was how underdev ...more
Amy
Nov 17, 2007 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, fiction
I had just come from "To Say Nothing of the Dog" as was vastly dissapointed. Too many bland characters. Too many unexplained motives or actions---what was the deal with Richard? Why did he do what he did? And Annie had no life at all. Very flat. Jeff was good. He redeemed the book. Well, Traveller actually redeemed the book. I caught on to the sentiment and shed a brief tear at the end, but it could have been told much better. I think the concept would have been better portrayed in a poem. I und ...more
Becca
Jul 01, 2015 Becca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a letdown. The title should be "General Lee Felt Really Bad, Do You Feel Bad for Him Yet?" The answer is, not really.

The first half of this book was quite a page page-turner. It's chock-full of interesting historical tidbits which I enjoyed throughout the book - the one redeeming quality by the end. Midway through it hits a slump and never recovers. Annie is a very shallow and oblivious character who seeks help from two men and then resents and rejects that help instead of just taking care
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Joe  Noir
This is not a book I would have chosen as recently as a month ago. I am not a civil war buff. I recently became interested in the work of Connie Willis, and I found this and another of her novels at a library book sale in Newport News, so I snagged them, along with a bag full of other books.

The following evening I was feeling ill. I grabbed this book out of the bag for temporary distraction from my pain, nausea, and alternating hot and cold sweats, and it drew me in immediately. Nine pages…then
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Lyle
Dec 21, 2015 Lyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, history
I really love Connie Willis, but this one just didn't do it for me. I felt like there were too many loose strings that never really got tied up satisfactorily. (Also, I'm not American and don't know anything about the Civil War - it took me a long damn time before I realised which side was which in the dreams/flashbacks, which probably didn't help my enjoyment, but isn't Willis' fault.) Also, I can never tell whether it's because I'm ace or because I'm a minimally decent person, but I have littl ...more
Leah
Oct 12, 2015 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
How interesting to read her first novel, where all her traits are worked out in rather broad brushstrokes on a rough canvas. Her characters are quick to endear themselves, her situations quick to embroil themselves, and there really isn't a real antagonist. Rather, once more, the antagonist is the situation, the characters their own worst enemies.

It was strange to read her writing American characters though - so far I've only read the four Oxford Time Travel books. This was nowhere near their q
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Alexandra K
Apr 17, 2014 Alexandra K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I enjoyed this one (as I do all Connie Willis' work), but not as much as usual. A few things really bugged me:

1. I'm sure Robert E. Lee was a great guy and fantastic leader who was well-loved by all, etc., but he was still the leader of an army fighting for the right to keep people enslaved. And for a book on the Civil War, Willis doesn't mention ANY Black people - doesn't even acknowledge what the Confederates were fighting for and why. She just treats the Union and the Confederates as two side
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Sara
Jul 26, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Having read and loved Bellwether, I was looking forward to reading more Connie Willis. I had started Doomsday Book last year, but was distracted and not able to get into it. So finding Lincoln's Dreams for $2 at my favorite used bookstore last week seemed like a good investment.

The story revolves around Jeff, a historical researcher for a Civil War fiction author. Jeff meets Annie, the maybe girlfriend/patient of his former college roommate. In a couple of quick exchanges it is revealed that An
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Althea Ann
Sep 27, 2013 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Willis' first novel; won the John W. Campbell award.
Jeff is a research assistant to an historical novelist. The novelist, Broun, has just barely finished a book on the Civil War, and thinks his next book will be about Abraham Lincoln. He is somewhat fixated on analyzing Lincoln's dreams to try to gain insight into the man. So he invites Jeff's old college roommate, Richard, a dream researcher and physician, to a reception. Reluctantly, Richard shows up... with a young woman, Annie, in tow. Jeff
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Jaclyn
Aug 31, 2009 Jaclyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: civil war buffs who like a bit of fantasy storytelling
Jeff is a researcher for a civil war historical novelist. Annie is his old college roommate's girlfriend and she is having strange and terrifying dreams. The two meet on a fateful night and embark on a journey to solve the mystifying puzzle of Annie's dreams and why she is having them. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't like this book when I started it. I am not that knowledgeable about, or into, the Civil War and am not terribly into fantasy storytelling either; these combined did not bode wel ...more
Stephen
May 17, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I've gone back and forth on the rating since finishing. Ultimately, it is a flawed book. About 3/4s of the way through, I paused and realized how very little we know about the two main characters. And yet, somehow, it didn't really matter. I cared about them, I could sympathize in their manic but misguided quest to find answers. And, ultimately, these are Connie Willis' characters, with shades of people she would write later.

And then there's the ending. We never officially know what has happened
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Jeff
Dec 11, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Connie Willis continues to climb up my list of favorite authors. And I might have never read any of her work, had it not been for the Science Fiction/Fantasy reading group right here on Goodreads!

Lincoln's Dreams is not about the Civil War. Or at least that's what the author claims. It's about dreams. It just happens to heavily involve the war. And for the most part of the book, it seems to be more about Lee's dreams than Lincoln's.

I was slightly confused at the ending, though. I may have to go
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Charlotte
Mar 27, 2009 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Connie Willis and while this was not by any means my favorite of her books it left me content and thoughtful. I would call the book hauntingly beautiful but with definite weaknesses in terms of character development and plot resolution. Willis's writing style is elegant and quirky and never fails to pull me in. In this book, her style very appropriately evoked walking through a surreal and confusing dreamscape. The characters were constantly led down dead ends and in circles in their ques ...more
Richard
Mar 18, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
This book is outstanding! Even though it was written in the 1980's, it does not seem at all dated. It is set in the present time near the major Civil War battlefields, but involves a lot of the history of the War. It is well-written. It will keep you in suspense. The loose ends are neatly tied up at the end. I highly recommend this book, and this author, to anybody who is able to read.
Nancy
Sep 06, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. Both topics were interesting -- both the dreams and the Civil War background. It is chock full of Civil War history.
Jeff Johnston, an historical researcher, meets Annie, who is having vivid nightmares about the Civil War. She claims she is dreaming dreams for Robert E. Lee so he can rest.
However, the dreams are portents of deeper conditions and that is a fascinating psychological concept, too.
Lincoln's Dreams is also a love story. The book contains listings of books an
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Lawyer
Annie dreams of things she should have no knowledge of, Antietam, Chancellorsville,and Gettysburg. Her dreams are horrifyingly real. Her psychiatrist believes Annie is hiding something deep in her subconsciousness. His former roommate sees it differently. He works as a historical researcher for a writer of Civil War novels. His employer is writing about Lincoln's dreams. Annie is having Robert E. Lee's dreams. Lee is restless even in death. He cannot sleep. Annie is helping him rest. Can she sur ...more
John Herbert
I guess you have to make allowances for the fact that LINCOLN'S DREAMS was one of the author's earliest books. It's also probably one of her shortest.
The idea of a woman dreaming of the American Civil War, and a young researcher trying to interpret the dreams, was an appealing one.

Compared to her later classic TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, the writing of DREAMS seems almost amateurish, the characters are frustratingly dreamlike themselves, and the ending seemed a bit confusing, a symptom perhaps of
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Sharon Buchbinder
Jun 24, 2014 Sharon Buchbinder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ghosts, fantasy
As a fan of The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, I was delighted to find this little gem tucked away in Willis' back list. Bonus points for the fact that I am also a lover of Lincoln trivia. The story, which is ignited by Lincoln's dream of his death, leads us in other disturbing directions. Jeff, a research assistant to an historical novelist finds himself babysitting a young, attractive woman, Annie, who has disturbing dreams while her erstwhile boyfriend and sleep researcher, Rich ...more
Rachel
I genuinely have no idea what this book was about. First of all, there was a baffling assumption throughout that I, the reader, knew a lot about the American Civil War. Given that many Americans think former slave plantation houses are a great place to have a wedding (which would be like a European getting married in Auschwitz), it's a big leap to assume that, and an even bigger one for non-American readers. I had to stop halfway through to google Robert E. Lee. I assumed any self-aware book wri ...more
Guillermo
Mar 30, 2015 Guillermo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Otro libro de Willis en su estilo kafkiano y romántico, como Oveja mansa, como Tránsito.
La parte fantástica no se explica y es simplemente aceptada por los personajes. Se trata de una chica que sueña con demasiada intensidad los sueños del general Lee, cuyo ejército fue derrotado y tiene en su conciencia cientos de miles de muertos. Esas pesadillas la están desbaratando pero la chica siente que es su deber ineludible ayudar a Lee en su expiación.
El chico es un historiador que la ayuda y sabe tod
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Giulia
Dec 12, 2015 Giulia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobooks, 2015
2.5

This is Connie Willis' first novel and I think it shows. It has all the trademark features I've come to expect form her books (very detailed historical background, geeky characters obsessed with their subject of study, and communication issues between the characters), but they don't fit together as well as in her later novels. At least not for me.
The amount of historical detail in the book is fantastic and it really makes you feel like you are in that particular time period, the American Civi
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Alexandra
Jul 31, 2014 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My relationship with this book is conflicted, and strange.

I first read this two summers ago. Devoured it in a single day; loved it. I was introduced to Connie Willis thanks to the time travel tales, and as I have a strong interest in Civil War history, I had to read this. Upon first read, it really, really resonated with me emotionally.

However, when I re-read it, I began realizing there were some flaws in the writing. For me, they did not diminish the emotional impact of the book; I still came a
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Tasula
May 18, 2015 Tasula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an early Connie Willis book, but it had the same tone as later books- intellectual, focused on details (that may seem petty), mystical, gentle. A researcher working for an author of historical novels meets a woman who is plagued with dreams of the civil war. The author is working on a novel about Abraham Lincoln, and sends the researcher on missions to find or confirm details needed for the novel. One question the author has is about Lincoln's dreams- did one of them that occurred a few ...more
Susan
Aug 21, 2014 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this down. The premise was unusual, the Civil War research compelling, and the narrative was driving you toward an ultimate conclusion that promised to be fascinating. The main character was Robert E. Lee and the other characters took a subordinate role to the dreams. Loved the villain. All this would be okay with a satisfying conclusion. The nature of the dreams, why they occurred, what happened to the protagonists - all this was left hanging and most of all - why Annie? And Jef ...more
Katrina Koehler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda
May 25, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. Dreams. Lee. Lincoln. Modern day people obsessed (haunted. perhaps?) by the Civil War's "glorious dead". If you're into history or the Civil War, give this book a try.
John
I read this quite a while ago, and reread it recently. Ms. Willis' fantasy novel is an epic accomplishment. It is deep (esp. Research) and powerful (writing and subject). She did not write it to explain or interpret dreams. She says as much in the forward of my edition - Bantam 1992. She wrote it to reveal how dreams confond us, the Civil War "haunts" us, Abeaham Lincoln & Robert E Lee, to this day, still amaze us. She includes a character who is an author who writes Civil War novels (fascin ...more
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Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis is an American science fiction writer. She is one of the most honored science fiction writers of the 1980s and 1990s.

She has won, among other awards, ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards. Willis most recently won a Hugo Award for All Seated on the Ground (August 2008). She was the 2011 recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Ficti
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“Don’t come all the way across town. There’s a Metro station right outside of Arlington. I’ll meet you there, all right?” 1 likes
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