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Marianne Dreams

Author: Catherine Storr
Series: Puffin Story Book
Edition: 1984 reprint
Published: Harmondsworth
Physical Description: 203p. : ill.
Notes: Catherine Storr (1913-2001) was a British author, doctor, and psychiatrist. Storr was the author of over thirty books for children, which spanned a variety of genres and age groups. Marianne Dreams was first published in 1958 and is Storr’s best known work (O’Sullivan 240). It was first published by Puffin Books in 1964, and has been republished by Faber and Faber as recently as 2006. The book’s publication record is testament to a work that was both unusual for its time and one that has continued to experience popularity. Marianne Dreams is a psychological fantasy exploring the dream world of a sick ten year-old girl, Marianne. While confined in bed, she draws a child’s typical picture of a house with a pencil she finds in her grandmother’s workbox. Berating herself for never being able to quite translate what she sees in her mind onto the page, Marianne falls asleep and begins to dream of this two-dimensional house in a flat, empty space. The novel is certainly not a comforting fantasy, and Marianne’s dream world is often described in bleak and sometimes terrifying detail. Marianne finds both comfort and frustration there, particularly in the relationship with Mark, a boy she has drawn, who corresponds to a paralysed child Mark who her governess speaks about in real life but whom she has never met. The inexplicability and intensity of Marianne’s emotions are detailed with psychological realism, and Marianne never conforms to the model of the happy and self-sacrificing sick child of an earlier tradition of children’s books. The events in Marianne’s dream world suggest both the effect she can have in the world and her simultaneous helplessness, which contributes to an ongoing sense of confusion and fear. The end of the novel traces Marianne and Mark’s escape from ‘beastly’ stone creatures of Marianne’s imagination to a lighthouse and tower she has also created. Though Marianne and Mark are temporarily happy in the tower, characterised by its roundness and windows, they realise it is not a place that can be inhabited forever. The novel ends as Marianne looks out at toward the sea, suggesting the possibility and open-endedness of her journey into adulthood.
[Ciara Gallagher].
O’Sullivan, Emer. Historical Dictionary of Children’s Literature. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010.
Subject: Gender, Genre, Age of Reader, Psychological Fiction, Fantasy, Dreams, Reality, Pre-adolescence, Illness, Disability, Escape, Fear
Language: English
Original price: U.K. £1.50; Aust. $3.95; Can. $3.95
Library: Church of Ireland College of Education
Collection: Bartlett Puffin Collection - CICE