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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Review: Dreams for Stones

Dreams For Stones
by Ann Warner

A man holding fast to grief and a woman who lets go of love too easily—it will take all the magic of old diaries and a children’s story to heal these two.

Caught in grief and guilt over his wife’s death, English professor Alan Francini is determined never to feel that much pain again. He avoids new relationships and keeps even his best friend at arm’s length. His major solace is his family’s ranch south of Denver.

Children’s book editor Kathy Jamison has learned through a lifetime of separations and a broken engagement that letting go is easier than hanging on. Then she meets Alan, and for once, begins to believe a lasting relationship is possible.

But Alan panics and pushes her away—into the arms of his best friend.

Now the emotions of three people are at stake as they struggle to find a way to transform their broken dreams into a foundation for a more hopeful future.

I read DREAMS FOR STONES as 'dreams of stones' at first glance. With a second look, the title intrigued me. As subtly as the title did, the story itself pulled me in—not a startling or shocking hook but with a lure that teased and enticed my interest. The movie, Hope Floats came to mind when I finally deciphered the title.

The quiet, deep-down emotion of Alan’s grief that became mired at the guilt phase is heart-wrenching, making this reader want to see him find a way out so he can feel like living again rather than just going through the motions. The demands of the department head at the university threaten to derail his professional life on top of his other problems. The work he does at the ranch and giving Gracie riding lessons seem to be the only pleasures in his life.

Kathy Jamison of Calico Cat Books (love the name) had a different kind of grief to overcome. After an intimate weekend with her fiancé, he ‘dumps’ her. Consequently, when she and Alan are virtually thrown together, they are not at their best for forging a working relationship.

Ann Warner weaves entries from Emily’s diary (so good), Gracie’s life-threatening sickness, and politics at the university, ranch activities, workings of publishing, and the value of true friends into this well-crafted novel. While the story is about two people who each lost an Essential Someone, it encompasses some very special sub-stories that touch the heart also.

The description is beautiful. The emotions are vividly revealed. The joy of life that finally works its way out of a maze of misery gives the reader lots of good things to think about and to store for future reference. I highly recommend this very emotional read.

Review by Camellia