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Castle of Dreams

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother's hidden past.

Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2016 by Allen & Unwin
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Jenn J McLeod
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is so much to love about this novel: a love story beautifully told, a lush setting that transported me to a glamorous earlier era in Australia’s history — and who doesn't love an old castle? In fact, this nomadic novelist is now turning the caravan around and heading to the place that inspired Castle of Dreams. Present-day plots woven with the past (and a few family secrets) are my favourite and this story is also the perfect blend of evocative writing and authenticity. Highly recommended.
Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young adult up to any age
I absolutely love this book. I was fortunate enough to get a pre-publication glimpse, and was blown away by the beauty of the tale and the careful research that has gone into every scene. I am a huge fan of stories that can transport me away from the 'here and now' into another time and place, and this one does exactly that. It's immersive and charming and I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended!
Spanning the years from 1935 at the Castillo de Suenos in far north Queensland when Vivien and Rose Blake were twelve and ten years old respectively through to 2009 when Rose’s granddaughter Stella became interested in the history and shrouded secrets of her Nan’s past – Castle of Dreams is a deeply emotional debut by Aussie author Elise McCune.

With Stella’s eighty three year old Nan living with Stella’s parents at Warialda (an Aboriginal word meaning “place of wild honey”) - a tropical fruit f
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune.

This is a hauntingly, beautiful and poignant novel set in Castillo de Suenos, a castle of dreams built by a Spaniard in the 1930s in a rainforest in Far North Queensland where birds, bees and the scent of tropical flowers, eucalypts and honeysuckle fill the air.

It's a story of secrets held by two sisters and their families set in two different timezones.

A Castle in a Rainforest and a magical kingdom with beautiful gardens, ruins, a belltower a
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a beautifully written and very enjoyable story. I loved it!
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-books
Beneath the stunning tropical themed cover of this beautiful book, lies a wonderful multi layered and complex historical romance, fused with a contemporary narrative. Castle of Dreams is the story of two sisters, Vivian and Rose and their experiences in Australia during the Second World War era. Tied to this wartime story is that of their granddaughter/great niece Stella, who seeks to uncover a shroud of secrets that surround her grandmother. Set in the tranquil and tropical locale of far north ...more
Natalie-ann de Gruchy
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I adored reading Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune. The pretty cover depicts the story that lies inside; a historical novel partially set during World War 11 in Australia’s tropical north Queensland. A beautiful rainforest castle, provides the perfect, almost magical, setting for this delightful narrative to unfold. The reader is introduced to two young sisters, Vivien and Rose who grew up at the castle. The plot then flashes forward to modern day Stella (Rose’s granddaughter), a photographer, wh ...more
Bernadette Nomres
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved novels which reflect history in some way and it was both refreshing and enlightening to read a novel set in Australia during the Second World War. Not only did the author give us an intriguing love story, she also compassionately handled the very sensitive issue of post traumatic stress disorder which ultimately led to domestic violence, issues which are finally being acknowledged and addressed today. Back in the '50s, however, both topics would have been 'off limits', much l ...more
Wendy Dunn
Engaging characters and story made this novel such an enjoyable read.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
[3.5] After a very busy few months, this book was a welcome change of pace. The book is split between WWII Australia and 2003 (a couple of short chapters) and 2009.

I'm not sure if it is just the book I'm picking up, but narratives split between different time periods seem more common than they used to be. It worked well in this book with the book being driven by a genealogical mystery the main character, Stella, becomes aware of and works through. While the mystery itself is easy to guess for u
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this book as an advanced reading copy and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot of the story is set in the North Queensland rainforest, I know the castle is real and can picture the settings so clearly. The women in this book are real and alive and totally engaging. I could not wait to see how the story unfolded through three generations of twists and turns. In the end love was all that really mattered and how it affected the next generation. Some of the twists I could see coming but no ...more
C Exley Books (Cassandra)
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, 2016
**I won this book through Goodreads First Reads.**
Full review at

I just want to start by saying I don't like books that are told by multiple characters points of view, But I absolutely loved this book.

Its a story of secrets held by two sisters and their families set in two different timezones.

I enjoyed reading about sisters Vivien and Rose and how they were brought up in a mysterious castle in Northern Queensland during the war and also Stella.
Janet Ryan
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I recently finished reading Elise McCune's Castle of dreams novel which I recently won a copy of thanks to Allen and Unwin and Goodreads. It was a captivating novel spanning decades. The picturesque images and characters portrayed by this author ( which amazingly is her first published) set in far north Queensland's rainforest region and begins about the time of the second world War held many secrets, dramas, loves lost and reclaimed and showed the true importance of family. I loved it my favour ...more
Natalie Murnane
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It was just the perfect book to read as I watched the kids swimming. The style of writing flowed beautifully and I was drawn into their world. I love that it was set here in Australia. The mystery was just perfect and the characters very interesting. I love the past and present being joined so well. A very wonderful book and definitely recommended. Thankyou to Goodreads for the giveaway. I'm looking forward to visiting the castle in the near future.
Aug 06, 2016 rated it liked it
With an elegant plot and descriptions reminiscent of Kate Moreton, Castle of Dreams is a great light read. Having visited Paronella Park I thought the depictions evoked the atmosphere perfectly, although I felt the first person narrator was a little thin, and key characters (like Jack) were only sketches rather than fully rounded characters. An absorbing read.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through first reads. This is a book I wanted to read as I had visited Paronella Park near Innisfail. It is an amazing place.
The book centres around the Spanish castle which is in the grounds. Great story, loved the ending.
The story itself was great to read, couldn't put it down. read in two days.
Lesley Cheatham
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Elise McCune has a lovely very readable style. She transports the reader to the time and place with ease. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of past and present. I can recommend this book to any reader. I became immersed in this family and their story. Great read.
Kimberley Starr
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully evocative place settings for a two-timeline Australian story that will melt the hearts of romantics everywhere.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable read skipping from the present to war time in far North Queensland.
Alexis Ramage
Received this book as a GoodReads giveaway.

This was a beautiful, and magical read.

Further review coming once i sort through my feelings.
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story, beautifully written, lots of twists and turns, such a pleasure to read!
Apr 14, 2016 added it
Shelves: mccune-elise
How I loved this story! Thank you Elise for such a beautifully written, emotional story. I look forward to reading many more of your stories.
Robyn Coyle
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved every minute of this book. An amazing saga - kept me intrigued the whole book.
Robby Dennis
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous tale of yester-year mixed in with contemporary. Bittersweet and hard to put down. Well worth reading.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, netgalley
I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley-thank you!

I enjoyed this book, even though it was a little slow at times and definitely a bit predictable. I liked all the characters, especially the ones in the present story. It's not the best World War II historical fiction I've ever read, but I liked that it was a little different, as it was based in Australia.
Sue Gerhardt Griffiths
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing

A stunning and captivating novel set in two timezones. I adored Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune. From the second page I knew immediately I was going to be spellbound and transported to one of my favourite places in tropical North Queensland. I've visited Paronella Park twice where the story is based and McCune's description took me back to the first time I fell in love with this extraordinary place.
Reading page after page I felt more and more that I was stepping into a glorious painting and wa
Ellen Read
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“An enthralling novel of love, betrayals, loss and family secrets”

A ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother’s hidden past.


To start with Castle of Dreams has the most beautiful cover. I know many readers, my self included, who ha
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I received this book as a goodreads giveaway. I am a great fan of historical fiction and overall I enjoyed this book. The story was well researched and the author was extremely adept at painting a picture for the reader of the landscape, smells and sights of scenes such as the New Years Eve ball at the castle and the rainforest walks taken by the characters. However, I found it skipped quickly through some scenes that could have been fleshed out such as the death of Vivien's husband and the meet ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this novel and discovering the secrets, lies and loves of the main characters. The authors description of Castillo de Suenos was magical. I was lucky enough to visit Paronella Park, which was the inspiration for the Castillo de Suenos, a few years ago and the authors description took me back to this wonderful place.

I was getting a little confused towards the end of the novel and had to reread a couple of passages but in the end it all made sense.

If you have been to Paro
Vicki Robe
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting story which continues to unravel the more into the book you get. What complicated webs are woven when wars occur and change the way people live their lives. A great read revealing many family secrets which are discovered through the generations.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Dec 05, 2016 03:09PM  
Castle of Dreams 2 8 Apr 17, 2016 04:19PM  
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Elise McCune is an Australian, Melbourne-based writer.


I love this type of dual narrative, and found the scenes set in the 1940s particularly evocative. A real page-turner of a book, with just enough sizzle.

Kate Forysth ~ International best selling author

With the castle setting and family secrets the novel fits into the gothic genre, but ironically sa