Kirsty Stanley's Reviews > My Dream of You

My Dream of You by D.J. Kirkby
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Jun 05, 2012

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bookshelves: own-as-e-book, read-in-2012
Read on June 05, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Contains Spoilers
I was supplied an e-review copy of this book to help celebrate D.J.Kirkby’s publication launch day. This is a genre I don’t normally read much because I’ve mainly ben reading young adult series recently. What follows is my honest and spoilery review.
I read My Dream of You in about five hours across two sittings and I probably would have read it in one go if I didn’t have to get some sleep. This is a good thing because it means I was intrigued by the story and wanted to keep reading to find out what happened.
This is Betty’s story of her summer crush and a society and her mother not wanting to deal with the consequences. The story starts with Betty (now older and recently widowed from a man called Albie) still worried that what happened all those years ago will catch up with her. Quickly we travel back in time and are following Betty and her cousin Maggie’s adventures at the summer fair. We are caught up in her infatuation with Joe, their intimate encounter and the bereavement of her first loss when he leaves, without her being able to say goodbye. We are already given the clear impression that her mother Doris is not the caring type but how she deals with Betty’s pregnancy, is horrible. Now we are rooting for Betty to find a way out of the ‘workhouse’ she has been placed in and after she gives birth we long for her to find a way to keep her daughter Candy (Candida). Now of course that doesn’t happen, but Betty does find an escape to Woolly (the kindly old lady from the wool stall at the fair) where she meets her future husband Albie.
Back to the present and Betty’s past life rushes into her current one, first Maggie, then her daughter, now going by the name Dida and pregnant with her first child, and finally Joe.
Personally I would have liked to read a little more about the years in-between to get more of a sense of her relationship with Albie, I presume they didn’t have children but am interested to know how this was managed, because it seems she never told him about her past. I also felt there were a few unanswered questions about Doris and her trips to London and how she’d responded to Betty absconding. I wanted to understand more why she was so cruel.
I also have to admit to enjoying the historical episode more than the scenes in the future, I wonder if that was because I found it a little difficult to age Betty and also we switch to having the reunion between mother and daughter more from Dida’s point of view. It is really clear how much Betty has been affected by her difficult past and she constantly fears rejection from those in her past. I felt for her. The tagline asks crime of passion or cruel twist of fate and I would definitely say the latter, but clearly at the time of writing and probably even now young women are often vilified, at least by society, when in this situation.
D.J. Kirkby is a midwife and this is represented in the scenes around motherhood and pregnancy. It is clear, both from the dedications and the story that research into how young unwed mothers were treated was undertaken. The Matron who delivers baby Candy is as supportive to Betty as she is allowed to be (and more so), I really warmed to this character who gives Betty the baby blanket that helps her keep her daughter near despite her being taken away again when she wasn’t able to say goodbye.
I did find myself in tears a couple of times and this is not the first time Denyse has made me cry. I look forward to her forthcoming Special Deliveries nonfiction midwifery tales – do check out the Butterfly Babies story on her blog (but have a tissue handy). I also have Without Alice, Denyse’s first novel on my Kindle waiting to be read. I would recommend My Dream of You as an enjoyable story of young, fleeting but enduring love and motherhood (both positive and negative representations of it).
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