Land of Dreams

Written by Peter Yeldham
Review by Jane Steen

This novel follows the lives of two civilians through the duration of the Second World War. Sam Delon and Florence Carter meet during a family vacation in Australia under the shadow of the war. During this peaceful interlude, the two forge an intense bond that will sustain them throughout the darkest days ahead. Upon his return to Japan, Sam, a foreign national, finds himself on the wrong side of the conflict. He attracts the attention of the feared Kempetai (Japanese military police), and his plight worsens as the war intensifies. Meanwhile, on the Australian home front, Florence unwillingly finds herself swept along by the undiscriminating turbulence of war when her husband Carl is arrested on charges of espionage.

Despite the publisher’s claim that the plot revolves around an “unusual love story,” at its heart Land of Dreams is a chronicle of civilian life in the Pacific during WWII. It depicts a myriad of wartime woes and predicaments from food rationing and bombing raids to government propaganda campaigns and espionage dramas. The plot is sufficiently unpredictable to capture the reader’s interest through the book’s 450-plus pages. Unfortunately, the narrative suffers from a lack of character development and emotional depth. A lackluster quality pervades Sam and Florence’s personalities, preventing them from evolving into the complex, living individuals they could be. This book may interest readers who desire to learn about everyday life in Japan and Australia during the Second World War and who enjoy a plot full of twists and turns, but who can also overlook the book’s particular flaws.