The Dreaming by Barbara Wood: A Novel about Australia

Under the blazing sun of India, Joanna Drury was dreaming again, a recurring nightmare of troubling visions that had long plagued her mother, Emily, too before she died. Thus begins the sweeping tale of a woman's courage to seek out the mystery of a generations-old curse that has haunted her family into the untamed and forbidding land of Australia.

Barbara Wood once again presents us with a strong heroine amidst the roughness and stifling heat of the Outback in mid-nineteenth century. Joanna's strength though does not echo the landscape but instead lies in her endurable spirit, her grace and gentle ways of healing, her quiet passion to the ones she loves. As she traces her grandparent's history, who were once Outback missionaries, through her mother's diary, she comes to know more about the Aborigines and the mystical paths they once believed called "the Dreaming".

This book gives you an insightful glimpse of the lives of the pioneers who landed in Australia as well as the varying folk lore of the Aboriginals; how time, with its modernity, shifts change between the two and everything else on the land. Though the story spans years and some may take it as incredibly long, you get captivated by the characters and how their lives, their destinies will pan out before the end. Wood builds things up slowly and sometimes sporadically, that you either can't help savoring the passages or you can't wait to get it over with, but the thought of unraveling the mystery is there to keep you guessing.

When I first held this book, I was intrigued by stirrings of something magical evoked by this particular cover, alluding to the journey I'm about to read. I am most curious about novels set in Australia, a palpable interest as one might say. Wood's portrayal of a life on the broiling country, the broad skies and vivid colors, the dream like beliefs of the Aboriginals is quite enthralling. Play up some mystery, romance and adventure into the story and you've got a keeper. Again, this is a first book I read of Barbara Wood but definitely won't be the last as her body of work shows extensive knowledge of the world or culture she creates with a twist of the spiritual, whether it is in the dusty old Egypt or in the rolling plains of Kenya. Best of all, I like how the story lingered on my mind long after I finished reading it.

Title: "The Dreaming"
Author: Barbara Wood
Genre: Historical, Romance
Published: 1992 Paperback
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ and a half cup - Settle down on a comfy chair in the veranda under the drowsy heat of the mid day sun to read this sweeping saga of adventure, loss, hardship, enduring love and beliefs.  Just let the details of the Australian landscape take you through it and set you on a 'walkabout'.