Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date: October 7th 2014
When Ellie Hogan’s sixteen-year-old son leaves his expensive boarding school and heads across the country to Hollywood she wastes no time in asking questions but gets on a train from New York City and follows him. Once in L.A. she decides that rather than punish the boy she’s going to let him have his chance at fame. It’s 1942 and this is Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan. Ellie is a well-known Irish painter and Leo is one of her two adopted sons. The other, Tom, joins them in Hollywood with the family’s housekeeper and they settle in while Leo becomes a part of the studio system, pinning all his hopes on getting a contract with Paramount.
Land of Dreams is the final book in Kate Kerrigan’s trilogy of Ellie’s life. I did not read the first two books but didn’t find that to be much of a problem as Kerrigan reiterates the key pieces of Ellie’s past repeatedly. This rehashing of the previous two books slows the story and is frustrating. The Hollywood aspects of the novel create enough drama but Kerrigan adds even more layers as the novel progresses, with a Polish composer who has escaped the Nazis and a new Japanese friend who faces being sent to an internment camp. All of this keeps Land of Dreams lively.
Kerrigan also infuses the novel with a lot of Ellie’s personal journey as she tries to mesh her creative life as an artist with her personal life as a mother and single woman navigating the field of relationships. This is interesting given the perspective of the times and of midlife. But packing so much into one story means that Land of Dreams feels like trying to find something you like in a T.J. Maxx—it is likely to be there but there is so much other stuff to go through that you may not have the patience to find it.