Book Review: “Maggie’s Dream”

Maggie’s Dream – by Leslie Tall Manning

  • DougInNC book Review

Author Manning quickly and crisply sets the stage, establishing the view from inside the title character’s head. Scene setting is terrific, with the writer clearly and consistently establishing who, what, when, and where. Her prose hearkens the time period using images of life in 1940s Baltimore and oft-forgotten brand names.

The confused Maggie of Chapter 3 faces uncertainty, saying, “It’s hard to know what I want when I haven’t had it yet.” The path to finding that core desire captivates the reader until she declares for “A life filled with magic and wonder.” Maggie lives before any Disneyworld dream, but Manning magically marshals vibrant visions in the heroine’s head.

Fluid chapter transitions, sections of delightfully descriptive prose, and marvelous phrasing make this a joyful read. Be forewarned! This wonderfully written work becomes immersive; bedtime reading risks making Maggie’s Dream dilute one’s own … and parts of that world are scary.

Amidst the novel it becomes apparent this isn’t just a tale, but also an exploration of certain human needs. Thus emerges a satisfying new dimension to an already engaging compilation. Kudos to the novelist for cleverly integrating those efforts.

Those who savor similes such as these will smile:
• “the pleading voice from her dream began to fade like the tail end of a song on a record.”
• “She suddenly felt like the baby bear coming home to discover that someone—or something—had tasted her warm porridge, sat in her cozy chair, slept in her comfy bed.”
• “The foggy darkness had swallowed up everything within reach, adhering to the top of the moat and sealing it in like a coffin lid.”
• “… chains creaked with each pull like ancient anchors ascending from the depths of the sea.”

The history, mystery, thrills, and chills delivered by North Carolina author Leslie Tall Manning will entertain any adult. Women will likely make the deeper connection.

Coincidental ties to other NC books were identified that are surely the work of one reader’s over-active mind:
• Maggie uncovers “a stone” needed to open “a door.” She needs only “a leaf” to complete the Thomas Wolfe phrase “…a stone, a leaf, a door …” indelibly imprinted by his “Look Homeward, Angel” (maybe each page is “a leaf”).
• Secondly, a female antagonist in this novel has the same uncommon-for-the-gender moniker as the protagonist in NC author Travis Mulhauser’s “Sweetgirl” (highly recommended). That name is not divulged herein because the author protects it until the late stages.

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