Dreams really can be amazing.
Dream a little dream is Giovanna Fletcher’s third novel and was widely anticipated following her first two bestsellers, ‘Billy and Me’ and ‘You’re the one that I want’. Although she is a highly dedicated wife and mother, Giovanna always finds time to write, despite her increasingly busy schedule. This book is for an adult (or young adult) audience and Giovanna’s writing certainly suits and reflects this. Despite knowing how a typical romance novel runs, Giovanna always takes a particular idea to explore in each of her novels; this is why I like her so much as an author. In this case, she considers the notion of dreams and their potential significance. This idea definitely intrigued me throughout the novel.
Having only discovered Giovanna’s books after her first two had been out for some time, I was amongst those anticipating the release of this one. The title is extremely fitting as the book centres around Sarah and the dreams that she has, some of which are quite whacky (as many of us experience in our own lives). The cover is lovely, with yellows, oranges and reds to match a sunset; it looks dreamy with its clouds and the silhouette of Sarah lying asleep atop one of them seemingly dreaming of the man whose silhouette sits upon another cloud.
Having read both of Giovanna’s other books, I was very excited about diving into this one and I was not disappointed. Sarah’s dreams are cleverly incorporated throughout the novel and an italic text helps to differentiate. Despite her popularity, Giovanna remains down to earth and this is reflected in her writing. She makes popular references such as the Spice Girls and Michael Bublé and creates characters who could so easily be real. In fact, the whole novel feels informal and it’s refreshing to read a story that feels so close to real life. In addition, Giovanna really knows how to write some truly beautiful moments, but also some heart-breaking ones and her novels always strongly capture my emotions.
The novel itself focuses around Sarah, a PA for a boss at a television production company. Although she studied media at university, her job does not require much use of her degree, and like many protagonists, she feels unsatisfied by her job. In fact, Sarah’s life does not satisfy her in many ways. Her mother is not particularly proud of her daughter (not uncommon in such novels) as she is in her 30s and is unmarried with no children. However, Sarah did have a long-term boyfriend, Dan, who remains in her life throughout the novel, but not in the way one might think. As they met at university, Sarah and Dan are part of the same group of friends and because of this, Sarah finds herself in the company of Dan (and his new girlfriend Lexi) whenever the group regularly meet; this adds an extra struggle to Sarah’s life as she battles to get over the man she loved, whilst watching his life progress with another woman. As Sarah begins to dream of a man she used to know, she becomes confused about how her love-life can be so amazing in her dreams and yet so poor in reality. Desperate and determined to advance in her career and love-life, Sarah really grows throughout the novel.
The narrative of the novel is told by Sarah, as the main character. For this reason, we have a deeper understanding of her and feel more emotionally attached to the character due to Sarah’s unrestrained thoughts. The character of Sarah clearly rings through the narration and her ‘voice’ and personality are clear. Sarah was one of my favourite characters in the novel because she was so relatable in her life and thoughts. Giovanna managed to create a character who I felt could be a real person (in fact, this applies to all of the characters really). Sarah is certainly far from perfect and she makes mistakes but her growth throughout the novel was something that I found admirable and inspirational.
The way Giovanna writes the novel makes you feel like part of the gang. Sarah fills in any background to each character so we feel as if we know each of them personally, and because we see through Sarah’s eyes, we’re there for every important moment in the character’s lives; the announcements, the heartbreaks, the Wednesday pub quiz, etc. This is largely why I also really liked the character of Carly, part of the gang, who lives with Sarah. Sarah and Carly have a really close relationship that is fun to be a part of (especially when Carly teases Sarah for her dreamy adventures with Brett). Throughout the novel Carly really goes through a lot, and as Sarah is her flat-mate, we’re there for much of it, meaning I felt close to the pair.
Of course, as this novel is a romance, I have to talk about Sarah’s love interest, Brett Last. Most romance novels go through the meeting, followed by a disaster, followed by a happy ending…but not in this book. Dream a little dream focuses instead on the initial stage of the relationship; the meeting, the winning each other over, the flirting. I enjoyed this a lot as I find the first stage of the relationship to be the easiest part to read about because it tends to be more relaxing and enjoyable. Brett was certainly a bit cheeky and the flirting between him and Sarah was really fun.
As I have already mentioned, this book is highly relatable. Even Sarah’s dreams, some that are enjoyable, and others that are plain weird, are relatable. We’ve all woken up either wanting to slip back into our lovely dream or thinking ‘what on earth just happened?’ Many people have also experienced disappointing their parents, or being in a dead-end job, and those initial stages of a relationship are also relevant. There is also a scene in the novel where Sarah is in the toilets at work and overhears a conversation about a co-worker leaving and I almost laughed because I know so many people, including myself, who have found out things from overhearing them in the toilets.
An idea that interested me in the novel was whether we meet people for a reason and why they leave, and return to, our lives. I do believe that things happen for a reason and if something is meant to be then it will find a way so these ideas really made me think and I love it when a novel gives me a little something the think about. Of course, it was not compulsory, just something that captured my attention. This idea is introduced in one of Sarah’s dreams and Giovanna uses Sarah’s dreams to her advantage many times in the novel. She uses one dream to make Sarah evaluate her thoughts on Lexi and in another Sarah is literally on a shelf waiting for a man to pick her. Often in her dreams, Sarah becomes vulnerable, and perhaps this is why we connect with her. Her true feelings seem to shine through her dreams and we are able to understand how she feels, whether it be happy, or upset, or confused. The introduction of dreams to highlight a character’s emotions is, in my opinion, extremely clever by Giovanna.
By the end of this book I felt as though I had lived Sarah’s life with her for a while. I’d felt her emotions, read about each of her dreams, and had quite a cry at an emotional scene. However, the end of the book left me with a smile on my face and was easily one of my favourite parts overall. I was not left with any questions and I felt satisfied that as a character Sarah had done what she needed to do during the course of the novel.
Giovanna Fletcher is one of my favourite authors and as usual she had me feeling a whole mix of emotions whilst reading this book. Giovanna has taken the idea of a normal romance and added her speciality once more, adding in a couple of totally unexpected twists and turns for good measure. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good romance and a little bit of a relaxing read (although you may find yourself reaching for the tissues).
Dream a little dream – Giovanna Fletcher, published by Penguin, first published in 2015, 001, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-405-91916-6