Methodtomadness's Reviews > Marianne Dreams
Marianne Dreams (The Magic Drawing Pencil, #1)
Catherine Storr's Marianne Dreams is another one of those books I didn't know about as a kid, but would have liked it if I had. Published in 1958, it's definitely got its dated moments (and a heavy helping of such Britishisms as "bother," "jolly," "blasted," etc.), but it's so darn weird , it can feel timeless at other moments.The premise is that a young girl bedridden by an unnamed malady discovers that an old pencil lets her create and alter another world she can visit in dreams, and whose only inhabitant is another ill child, but one crippled by the disease of that age -- polio. And the driving force behind the two children's dreamworld interactions is that there is some sort of menacing presence outside, and it's a race against the clock to recover from polio and somehow escape the confines of this dream-prison. There's a whole lot of allegory and metaphor going on, and some subtle musings about the power of creation (and what happens when you create something out of anger), but the little world Marianne creates is strange enough to be interesting on its own, even ignoring metaphor. And like the C.S. Lewis Narnia books, Marianne Dreams has little illustrations interspersed throughout, and while they're certainly not fine art, they add to the charm of the book and convey the sense of a child's drawing come to life. The line drawing of a confused Marianne standing in a vast field of grass, with nothing in sight but an oddly-drawn house surrounded by a low fence and a few rocks, conveys exactly that sense of puzzlement, solitude, and mystery that dreams so often have. Storr manages to capture the odd, flat, unreality of dreams while still occasionally reminding us of their power to be inexplicably terrifying -- and ultimately, their power to rejuvenate and heal.
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