Deedrick-Mayne, Laurel. A Wake for the Dreamland. Victoria, BC, Canada: Friesen Press, 2015. 384 p. Paperback. $29.99. ISBN 978-1-4602-5853-8.
This historical novel set in Canada begins just before World War II and focuses on close friends Annie, Robert, and William. The boys join up as soon as war is declared in 1939, and William (who is in love with Robert) discovers overseas the gay life he has been seeking. Robert is injured in action and disappears. Since he had made William promise to take care of Annie if anything happened to him, William marries her after returning home, and they have two children, though William is basically gay. He falls in love with Sidney, the son of a Jewish merchant who adopted William after his family disowned him for joining the military.
Robert eventually comes home, visits William and Annie unannounced, and sees them playing with their children. He returns to Edmonton convinced that he has no future with them. However, the novel ends on a positive note with high hopes that everyone can indeed make lives together with their primary loves.
This is the author’s first novel, and she tells the story masterfully, in the third person with lots of dialogue. Her characters are very much alive, complete and active, also including many fellow soldiers and family members from all sides.
Libraries and readers who like historical fiction with a strong gay theme will want this book. I enjoyed it immensely.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University