Lincoln's Dreams
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Lincoln's Dreams

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  2,405 ratings  ·  208 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...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published December 23rd 2009 by Spectra (first published 1987)
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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...more
Myridian
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
Trin
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
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
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...more
Sara
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...more
Megan Baxter
I have really enjoyed every Connie Willis I've read in the past (okay, the two I've read), and so I was disappointed that Lincoln's Dreams was just not as good. It lacked the emotional punch of the stories in Fire Watch, and is far too similar to Passage, which is simply a better book.

But Passage really does seem to be a reworking of the same ideas - dreams/near-death experiences take people to historical places (The Civil War/the Titanic) where they struggle with the meaning of their experience...more
Stephen
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...more
Jeff
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...more
Charlotte
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
Nancy
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...more
Mike
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
Alexandra K
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...more
Katrina Koehler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda
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.
Samantha Glasser
Lincoln's Dreams could have been a better book. We begin with an intriguing idea. An author of Civil War era books wants to write about Lincoln's dreams which told him weeks before he was assassinated that he was going to die. His researcher begins to take up with a woman who is having very vivid and historically accurate dreams from Robert E. Lee's perspective. But why, and should she allow herself to continue the dreams?

I felt that this book was too disorganized to keep the narrative from fee...more
Andrew Breslin
Dec 11, 2010 Andrew Breslin rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrew by: Herbivorous
After several excellent non-fiction works stimulated my interest in the subject, I watched Ken Burns' entire Civil War mega-mentary from start to finish in just a couple of days. With visions of Pickett's charge, Antietam, and Appomattox now dancing gorily in my head, it seemed an eerie augur of fate when, shortly afterward, my good friend Scott emailed me out of the blue (or possibly gray) to recommend that I read this book. It would be nice if I could report that the novel brought my personal...more
Althea Ann
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...more
M M
This was a wonderfully written book. The world is rich and detailed and I learned a lot I hadn't known about the Civil War.

Sadly it is also dated, and the story is ultimately pointless. Or felt that way. I think if I'd read this in the 90's I would have enjoyed it more, but reading this book with a modern eye was a disappointing experience.
The main character, Jeff, falls in love with Annie, a young woman having General Lee's dreams. (While Lincoln's dreams are mentioned there is no clear reaso...more
Cierra
I was incredibly excited to read this book after being introduced to Connie Willis with Doomsday Book, but unfortunately Lincoln's Dreams left me feeling confused and unsatisfied.

The idea of the book is very intriguing (especially considering the fact that I am a history nerd of sorts) and I absolutely love it when authors integrate historical facts into their story lines, but this book fell short. The plot was slow moving and not compelling, so the copious amount of Civil War facts were overpow...more
David
Like all Connie Willis' books I've read, I found this one very entertaining but its premise is among the strangest. Without too many spoilers, it offers some wild loose-science ways of dreams that reach across time. While the title is "Lincoln's Dreams" and is what one of the characters, an author name Broun is experiencing, the book actually mostly involves Robert E Lee's dreams, which are being experienced by sleep-starved Annie, the female lead. Willis uses an unusual plot structure mixing th...more
Jaclyn
Aug 31, 2009 Jaclyn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Jon
A flawed book with an interesting central concept that the author really doesn't do much with or give a rational explanation for. In the book, a historical researcher meets a woman who is having vivid dreams with a Civil War setting. He begins to realize that her dreams have historically accurate details and appear to be from the perspective of Robert E. Lee. She is having Robert E. Lee's dreams (so much for the title: "Lincoln's Dreams"). Why? No clear reason is given other than the fact that h...more
Annemarie
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did, though I did enjoy parts of it. The Civil War history held my attention because I learned things I didn't know. Lee's relationship with Traveller...touching. I've also been to several of the battlefields so I could relate to the story with that familiarity. However, throughout the story I had a hard time staying focused because of the relationship between Jeff and Annie. How quickly Jeff became involved with Annie and her drama...I didn't find...more
Catherine
Not being a student of the American Civil War, I was pleased to have some of it fleshed out in this novel. I was even motivated to do a little online research to give me some perspective on the big picture. I love it when that happens! So many historical novels that I have read over the years have resulted in a passion for further nonfiction research. I can always count on the accuracy of historical detailing that Connie Willis weaves into her novels. For that, and for her superbly readable styl...more
Emily
I rated this a five having read it years ago and having liked it. It's hard to see why now. It has the usual Connie Willis hallmarks--missed communication, messages, meetings, etc., but those things didn't bother me as much as they did in Passage. In fact, I have to wonder if that wasn't an element in my initial positive impression of this book. Unlike Passage, it did not spend half the book solving a mystery, and then wash, rinse, repeat, have a different set of characters spend the second half...more
Julian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark
This book didn't click for me, and I suspect will not click for many readers, but I'm giving it a higher rating because what the author was doing is so interesting.

The book has a standard love triangle, Jeff, Annie, and Richard. The other main character Broun, is a civil war novelist, who uses Jeff as a researcher for his novels. Broun has recently become obsessed over Lincoln's dreams before his assassination. Now here's the key: Anne has been having dreams about the Civil War, seemingly experi...more
Tracey
Jeff Johnston is a historical researcher working for a well-known Civil War novelist. He's trying to track down the location of Willie Lincoln's first grave, as well as research Lincoln's dreams before his assassination. when he meets Annie. She is a patient (& apparent girlfriend) of Richard, one of Jeff's college roommates. Richard works at the Sleep Institute and is working with Annie to discover what is causing her nightmares.

In talking with Annie, Jeff realizes that her dreams are someh...more
Kathy B.
Lincoln's Dreams didn't quite measure up to my other three Willis reads, Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Blackout, which were all solid fives. The historical part of the book was absolutely amazing, and that's what earned it a four for me. I loved the Civil War facts, major and trivial. I just thought the plot lacked a little polish that Willis carries off so flawlessly in her later works. The ending was a little unfinished(?) for me. However, Willis still shines through in her abi...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...more
More about Connie Willis...
Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2) Blackout All Clear Bellwether

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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?” 0 likes
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