A Wake for the Dreamland, by Laurel Deedrick Mayne. A review by Darcie Friesen Hossack

A note from the editor:

Laurel Deedrick-Mayne’s novel won first place in the Whistler Independent Book Awards in 2018, a year I was a judge. We’re pleased to bring you the short review that accompanied the announcement, along with a new poem that is a tribute to one of the characters, drawn from real life, in the book.

A Wake for the Dreamland review, by Darcie Friesen Hossack

A Wake for the Dreamland by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne is exquisite. With a voice that seems to echo straight from the heart of World War II, Deedrick-Mayne’s prose almost pleads to be read aloud. Often enough, I found myself whispering passages as I turned from page to page, just to hear the way they’d sound.

Contained within the achingly beautiful writing, however, is so much more.

It’s the summer of 1939, World War II is raging in Europe, and three friends are coming of age together in Edmonton, Alberta. Annie is a whip-smart young seamstress. William and Robert are students together at the music conservatory. Annie and Robert are in love, but so is William. Even before the boys join up, losses begin to mount. When they reach the devastation and death of war in Italy, the losses soon strain human ability to carry them any farther. And yet, the love (romantic, brotherly, erotic) that weaves the story together remains the strongest of the novel’s themes.

Told partly though letters, A Wake for the Dreamland‘s authenticity comes, in part, from the author having plumbed her own family’s treasured correspondence to bring the novel to life. Like some of the best fiction, it leaves the reader wondering where the line between story and reality may actually lie; knowing it to be a work of imagination, while wanting it all to be true.

With Remembrance Day only a month away, A Wake for the Dreamland is a must-read between now and November 11th. While the story begins almost 80 years in our past, it is also very much a book for our time.

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This poem was inspired by the photography of Ed Ellis: an empty chair in an empty room, the ravages of time evident everywhere. I could picture its former inhabitants in my heart and mind; I could hear their voices. My novel, A Wake For The Dreamland, was inspired by a letter written to my grandmother from a former suitor, then a soldier in France during the first world war. It is from the well of old images and letters that I draw the heartbeat of lives lived long ago. I write so the beat goes on. ~Laurel Deedrick-Mayne

The Road Home

Dear Son,

All I could find for an address was from
that postcard that said
English Bay, PNE, Stanley Park, Sylvia Hotel
and the postmark that said
That’s a long time ago.

Well anyhow-- 

Lindy said not to bother trying
to reach you.
She and Paul went back to Ferryland
because Paul said he missed the Rock too much
and they could live in a mansion in Newfoundland
for what a trailer in Fort Mac would cost
Golly, my blood flows from sea to shining sea
if you’re still out west.
Did you know Lindy wasn’t short for anything?
We called her that because we used to dance the Lindy
out at the hall before it burnt down in 1939 and I
joined up and never met her till after
and she was nearly six
by then. 

Well anyhow—

Not too much has changed around here except
that damn elm has pretty much taken over the place.
I finally put up wallpaper with pretty coloured roses
because your mother always said the walls felt so bleak
so much of the year
and the climbing roses she planted
alongside the house would never reach the window
where she might not see
if you were coming up the path.
The rose wallpaper would remind her that you might
Come back
In the spring, Or summer, Or Fall
One winter
She had a fall and I got her a better chair
where she could rest a cup of tea on the arm
while she watched
and waited.

Well anyhow— 

She wasn’t herself anymore
and one night she was just sitting in her chair peering out the window
and she said,
Les, my head hurts
She called your name
like you might have been walking towards the house.
She sounded so sure I had to look.
But no,
No suffering, they all said
and I didn’t know how to reach you till
I found this postcard in her pocket after
she was gone
and I stuck it to the kitchen cupboard
with a thumbtack
and forgot.

For awhile I let everyone do for me
with the house and all.
But then I didn’t let anyone but the Mennonites
But I even put the run on them
But after I gave them her piano.
After all, I don’t need much.
A cup of tea. A can of soup.
I took up watching for you.
It was the least I could do for her.
Even hauled the mattress down when my knee played up. 

Well anyhow—

I’ll try to post this tomorrow.
The elm has grown so you can hardly see
The road

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Once an Arts Administrator, Laurel Deedrick-Mayne has been a dance publicist, concert promoter, and ad copywriter. She has served on multiple arts boards while maintaining her ‘day job’ as a massage therapist.  Her independently published debut novel, A Wake For The Dreamland won the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award (ARCA) in 2016, the Whistler Independent Book Award (WIBA) in 2018 and has been on Edmonton’s Best Seller List for over 80 weeks. She has been a guest at over 60 book clubs and other book-related events. A late bloomer to publishing but a life-long third generation letter, poem and story writer, Laurel celebrates the ‘love that dared not speak it’s name’ while paying tribute to the generation who took the time to hang on to family letters, clippings, stories and poetry — all those ‘treasures’ that inspired A Wake For The Dreamland.

 Laurel is also a supporter of YouthWrite http://youthwrite.com through her workshop, “Writers of the Lost Art”, offering young people hands-on experience in letter writing and mailing using multiple mediums from quill and ink to typewriters.

Currently Laurel is exploring short story and poetry writing while dreaming up another venture into historical fiction.

Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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