A few months back I read and enjoyed Chloe Benjamin’s second novel, The Immortalists, so when I spotted a copy of her debut, The Anatomy Of Dreams, I had to pick it up! This award winning debut which was originally published in 2014 is a love story in which we meet a couple and how they came to be involved in some interesting research…
The novel is split into three parts, with events beginning in the late nineties in California. Here we meet Sylvie who meets and becomes attracted to Gabe at their boarding school. I was quickly drawn into Sylvie’s world and enjoyed learning about her years at the school and the development of her relationship with Gabe. One of the people of significance in this couples life is Dr Keller, their mysterious headmaster who has a particular fascination with stress and trauma, and how these issues may be resolved through dreams. This was a concept which I found intriguing, and I read on in interest as Sylvia and Gabe find themselves drawn to Dr Keller’s theories, and become involved in his research in which they analyse dreams and try to find a way to cure their subjects through them. However, the true nature of the experiments becomes clearer, and years later Sylvie realises that there may be more to Dr Keller than meets the eye.
It didn’t take me long to get into this story with its intriguing premise keeping my attention throughout as Sylvie begins to uncover the truth about her involvement in the research, as well as the truth about her relationships and her own dreams. I found it to be a well written and engaging story, with some interesting theories and discussion surrounding the significance of dreams and of course the revelations about Dr Keller’s research. I liked the use of the different timelines throughout, as it alternates between various points in Sylvie’s life, so we get to see her relationships and how they change through the years, and how Sylvie and Gabe find themselves working together again in the years that followed their blossoming romance. It is a book that covers themes of love and friendship, as well as that of moral responsibility, and the power of dreams.
I found The Anatomy Of Dreams to be a highly readable novel which blends a love story with elements of a science fiction thriller as we follow its protagonist on her journey of discovery in the mysterious world of lucid dreaming. Having enjoyed this and The Immortalists I would be interested in picking up more of Chloe Benjamin’s writing.