Dreamers of the Day

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Book and Author

Dreamers of the Day

A 40 year old spinster schoolteacher named Agnes, an unexpected trip to Egypt and the Middle East, and a remarkable moment in history combine to create a story wrapped in history as told by a woman who learns to overcome tragedy and live life to the fullest.

Mary Doria Russell

She grew up in Chicago, and now lives near Cleveland Ohio with her husband Don Russell and the tubby, opinionated dachshund Annie Fannie Sweet Feet–who was the model Rosie, Agnes’ dachshund in Dreamers of the Day.  To learn more about how libraries helped her become the person she is today, watch this video, recorded at a meeting of the American Library Association:

Video LInk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOEXkuR7G5g

Quote from the book:

When it comes down to it, I don’t have much in the way of advice to offer you, but here it is: Read to children. Vote. And never buy anything from a man who’s selling fear.


Topics this book will bring up for discussion include:

  • Agnes’ transformation from a 38 year old spinster who had never left her hometown to a world traveler with a growing confidence and a fabulous wardrobe can prompt a discussion about how she changed over the course of the novel and whether or not she would have changed if it had not been for the death of her family.
  • The role that Rosie, Agnes’ dachshund, plays in the novel and what she represents to Agnes.
  • Russell’s portrayal of the “Roaring Twenties” and how she identifies a strong correlation between identity and consumption–as postwar advertising influenced American’s psyches.  Your group can discuss how advertising has shaped our culture and what influences from the 1920’s are still at work in our culture today.

More discussion questions are available from Random House at this link.


I rather liked the taste of the gin and tonic, and I began to feel quite gay.”  -Agnes on p. 115


The setting and time period of this book offer several ideas to enhance your groups meetings.  Since Agnes’ shopping excursion is such a memorable scene from the book, your group may want to look through books with pictures and illustrations of 1920’s fashion and imagine what Agnes’ may have had in her wardrobe.  Egyptian music could play softly in the background as you discuss Agnes’ adventures.  And your group can sample some Middle Eastern fare of the kinds mentioned in the book–like falafel, tomatoes with goat cheese, and, to wash it all down, lemonade (or gin and tonics if you are more daring).    The library has books on MIddle Eastern cooking you could check out for more ideas.


Have you or your book group read Dreamers of the Day?  Would you recommend it to other book groups?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this post.