A tender, heartfelt, gem of a book


The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Although Mary Crampton had dreams of being an artist when she was younger, she stayed on in the dying town of Petroleum.  She lives with her father in the town’s funeral home and works as the embalmer.  She now directs her art to the deceased that she works on, making them appear to be almost alive to help their loved ones through the funeral services.  She’s a lonely woman and uncomfortable socializing.  She feels more at ease with the dead than with the living.  The local children taunt her and call her “Freak”.

Petroleum is a struggling town and has been disintegrating since an accident twenty years prior took the life of a beloved high school athlete, Eddie Golden.  His younger brother, Robert, only 14 years old at the time, was blamed for the accident.  The granary was shut down and the train no longer came to town.  But now Robert’s mother is dying and Robert has returned to Petroleum to care for her.  When Mary becomes friends with Robert, it sets off old resentments throughout the town and ignites old dreams in Mary’s heart.

This is a tender, heartfelt, gem of a book.  Every word of it made its way into my heart to stay.  This is a very talented author who writes like a poet with a powerful emotional punch.  I found this book to be completely breathtaking and I read it in a single day as I couldn’t bear to part with it.  So lovely, so haunting, so human.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.