“Since Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day), two generations ago, writers of fact and fiction have crafted words to show Canadians what the war over there and back here looked, sounded and felt like. For the first time since novelist Farley Mowat and historian G.W.L. Nicholson put the liberation of Italy in print for Canadians, Laurel Deedrick-Mayne has delivered the starkness of the campaign on the Sicilian and Italian fronts and the anxiety of loved-ones at home in Canada, all in the same work. It’s as if she lived the roles of her protagonists – William, Robert and Annie – by being there. Her research was there. Her imagination takes us deeper. Brava Laurel!”
– Ted Barris, author of The Great Escape: A Canadian Story
“In Laurel Deedrick-Mayne’s World War II novel, A Wake for the Dreamland, three characters form a beguiling frame through which we can view the desperation of fighting in Italy and the trials of those left at home. Deedrick-Mayne’s approach to historic fiction is without the show-off-my-research or heightened imaginative realism that plague this genre. Instead we are presented with a compelling, suspenseful, believable story and passages where the imagery is so strong we feel we are right there in the trenches. The journeys of the three likable friends make for a gripping read laced with moments of insight and poignancy.”
– Janet Hinton
“‘A Wake for the Dreamland’ is an ambitious novel, taking in Canada in the late thirties, the violence of Italy in World War II, and rebuilding lives and loves in the aftermath back home. It succeeds on every level — the engaging characters mean you can’t stop reading, while Canada’s role in the war, from the ‘hurry up and wait’ of training to the brutality of the Italian campaign is recreated in vivid detail. Although it’s clear how much research has gone into the book, Ms. Deedrick-Mayne wears her learning lightly, and the emotional journey undertaken by Annie, Robert and William is compelling reading. It includes the headiness of youthful infatuation, the slowest of slow-burn relationships, and a moving portrayal of closeted gay life throughout this period. All in all, a great read.”
– Frances Robinson, Freelance Journalist, UK and Brussels
“A Wake for the Dreamland is an ambitious novel, an enlightening and engrossing read. It covers forty years in the lives of three friends, Robert, Annie, and William, from the innocence of youth to the horrors of war until, through the healing power of everyday life and enduring love, the fulfillment of late middle age. The novel could be classified a historical romance, for it begins by vividly evoking one lost place and time, the town of Edmonton in the golden summer of 1939, then takes us to other more historically significant ones: London under the blitz, Sicily during the Allied invasion, and the towns, rivers, and countryside of Southern Italy, centers of devastation and death. Yet, as the best of history books do, the book explores issues that are immediate and relevant today: the weight of responsibility and duty and the difficulty of discovering one’s authentic self, the crippling effects of post-traumatic stress and the anguish of gay love in a repressive society. Robert, Annie, and William share their experiences of their generation, but each is an individual, fully realized character. The book satisfies the reader by letting us see, hear, and feel them. (Their letters, back and forth are particularly convincing.) A wake for the departed often brings both laughter and tears, and A Wake for the Dreamland tells us a story both light and dark, lost dreams and hard-won realities.”
– Caterina Edwards, author of The Sicilian Wife
“I thoroughly enjoyed this heartfelt, humorous, and touching novel about the lives and love of three friends.
During the time in which the novel was set, love of this nature was not talked about. How much has changed in so little time. Today we can read such a novel as “A Wake” and be inspired by the characters, moved by their humanity, and rejoice in our maturity.
Bravo Laurel Deedrick-Mayne!”
– P. Buffel
“There are novels which net the butterfly of life, stick a pin in its body and then tear off its wings to investigate their myriad shades. I much prefer this novel – it pursues the butterfly through the woods with the attendant falls, injuries, losses, sunlit glades and dark paths, until the butterfly settles on a branch and reveals a wonderful glimpse of its life affirming glory. Reading ‘A Wake for the Dreamland’ is both a deeply moving and uplifting experience.”
– Barbara Robinson
“Destined to be a best seller, A Wake for the Dreamland is an engaging work of Canadiana and historical fiction with a rich tapestry of memorable, complex characters, relationships and situations. The reader is taken on a heartfelt and, oftentimes, gut-wrenching journey from the ethnic neighborhoods of 1939 Edmonton, Canada to the bloodstained countrysides and devastation of war-torn Europe.
A coming of age tale, a trio of young friends learn, love, grow and experience life, death and the world as they are transported from the well-loved , familiar haunts of their pre-war Canada to the overseas shell-shocked villages and trenches of WWII.
Laurel Deedrick-Mayne has delivered a rich, full, unforgettable story and has, indeed, buttered her bread to the crusts! Love, love, LOVED this book!!”
– Laurie Spears
“Reading A Wake For The Dreamland was a wonderful obsession for me the last couple of days. I appreciate your style, humour, warmth, character development; evocative descriptions of locales, war, of love, passions, of inner confusions we all encounter, will stay with me. I recognized and felt gratitude for the frank theme of secreted sexuality that still presently impacts many. Thank you for that. The hometown of Edmonton, with reference to familiar locations within and beyond, makes it touching as a place my once young parents lived, laughed, and struggled with tragedy. Your writing entailed terrific dedication, research, immersion, hard work with skill and insight, Laurel. Congratulations!”
– J.L. Stewart
“I read ‘A Wake for the Dreamland’ as soon as I could download it onto my Kobo. And then I devoured it! On finishing a book I’ve often commented that I didn’t like any of the characters, but in this one I loved them, even when they weren’t being ‘sympa’. They were real, totally real. Being, like Laurel, a child of that generation, so many incidents rang true to me. The sense of place is deftly handled. Edmonton in the thirties comes alive, and there is no overbearing insistence on it’s being Edmonton — it’s just the place where the story unfolds, and the details are important to creating the sense of place. The story is completely believable and handled with great sensitivity. A very rewarding ‘read’ and a good history lesson, too.”
– G. Cameron
“Just finished reading Laurel Deedrick-Mayne’s wonderful book “A Wake for the Dreamland.” With its meticulously researched WWII history and richly detailed characters the story somehow manages to be both epic and intimate. What a clear and artful rendering of lives disrupted and destroyed by war – the carnage of battle is terrifyingly visceral, the emotional wounds even worse. And yet there is love and humour and poetry and grace. Highly recommended!”
“With a perfect start – the photograph and its description you instantly planted characters in my imagination, where they stayed and developed for the next 371 pages. You gave me a wonderful jigsaw puzzle, with the pieces made up of scenes and characters from 1939 to 1979. The pieces of the puzzle that you added were widely varied: gentle and violent, colourful and dark, beautiful and ugly, happy and sad — some laugh-out-loud, others tears-running-down-my-face moments. You gave me a brilliant, insightful depiction of the different effects of post-war-stress on soldiers (in a time when few understood the problems) and on the people who loved and cared for them. And finally, the happiest of endings, as the tangled relationships at last fell lovingly into place with the finishing pieces of your beautiful jigsaw puzzle. Thanks for a glorious read!”
– F. Price
“Laurel Deedrick-Mayne recreates, with astonishing depth and nuance, a part of our war history that hasn’t been written about nearly enough. For that alone, this book is a must-read: and yet there is so much more, too, to enthral us in A Wake for the Dreamland. Here is a novel which takes us from the big-sky beauty of Alberta to the shimmering hills of Italy, from the energetic buzz of young Edmonton to the swinging step of wartime London to the dark heart of war itself. And it takes, us, as well, deep into a shattered mind, into broken hearts, into the shame and rapture of lust — and the joy of love. Accomplishing all this in one novel is an extraordinary feat; this is an extraordinary book. By turns hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking, it will dig deep into your heart and never let you go.”
– Melanie Little, author of The Apprentice’s Masterpiece and Confidence
“I loved ‘A Wake for the Dreamland’! As I told you Laurel, I was entranced by the richly complicated characters and relationships, and seeing the events of the time come alive through their eyes. You captured, and made real, the nuances of the emotional reality that must have occurred for people experiencing the unbelievable events in wartime. The raw humanity of your characters touched my heart. I knew very little of the details of what happened with the Canadian soldiers overseas and I’ve been wondering now what the experiences were of my own relatives from Alberta and Saskatchewan who were there. Thank you for a beautiful story and your insights into the horror and the humanity of people stretched to the limit.”
– S. Greenfield
“Had the privilege of reading early excerpts … I’ve bought two! Don’t worry … if you don’t love it, your parents and aunts and uncles will! Great Book Club choice!”
– F. Keating
“What an extraordinary story is told here. Love and war, bravery and despair in a gripping style that engages the reader from beginning to end. Congratulations to Laurel Deedrick-Mayne for writing a first novel of such imagination and engrossing detail. You feel that you are following the story as if you were there with the characters, looking over their shoulders!”
– J. F. Mayne