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The Flicker of Old Dreams


The Flicker of Old Dreams

Twenty years before the actual story gets underway, tragedy struck the small town of Petroleum. A beloved high school athlete died in a bizarre accident in a local mill’s grain elevator. This shocking incident forever changed Petroleum, as the mill closed down and a number of people became unemployed. The main culprit turned out to be the victim’s 14-year-old brother, Robert Golden. The residents of Petroleum were ruthless and cruel to Robert, and made him leave the town soon after.

Fast forward two decades later, and the town is in the same place as it was immediately following the tragedy --- in a permanent state of latent depression. But then Robert comes back; his mother is dying, and he wants to spend her final days with her. His return stirs the town’s ghosts, but it also brings a positive change to the life of 30-year-old Mary Crampton.

"THE FLICKER OF OLD DREAMS is an absolute literary delicacy and already is one of my favorite novels of the year."

Mary is an embalmer who works in her father’s mortuary. She has been a resident of Petroleum her entire life; her mother died while giving birth to her, and she didn’t have the courage to leave her father. Both the children and adults find her to be strange and are mean to her. Like everybody else, Mary has dreams. Yet she has buried hers deep inside, and painstakingly tries to fit in with a town that refuses to accept her. Mary and Robert are the outcasts, which is what brings them together. Robert’s return and their short-term friendship will force Mary to wake up from her dormant life and unearth her dreams.

Susan Henderson’s latest novel is a poetic, melancholic and slow-paced story that focuses on relationships more than drama. It also touches on a variety of important topics, including the mentality of a small town, being different, the complex relationship between father and daughter, and pursuing your dreams versus living up to other people’s expectations.

The book is told from Mary’s perspective, so you almost feel as if you’re reading her diary as she recounts her memories, dreams, fears and frustrations, along with recent happenings in the town. What makes this story especially beautiful is the writing, which is so good and so magical that it compelled me to think about my own life and even made me shed a few tears in public.

THE FLICKER OF OLD DREAMS is an absolute literary delicacy and already is one of my favorite novels of the year. This is a story that should be read, reread and enjoyed.

Reviewed by Dunja Bonacci Skenderović on March 23, 2018

The Flicker of Old Dreams
by Susan Henderson

  • Publication Date: March 13, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0062686704
  • ISBN-13: 9780062686701