The Flicker of Old Dreams

The Flicker of Old Dreams

A Novel

eBook - 2018
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Baker & Taylor
Mary Crampton works as an embalmer in a small town that went into decline after a grain elevator accident killed a young athlete, but when the athlete's brother returns, Mary forms a friendship with him and is faced with the possibility of leaving her town.


A Montana Book Award Honor Book

With the quiet precision of Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres and the technical clarity of Mary Roach’s Stiff, this is a novel about a young woman who comes most alive while working in her father’s mortuary in a small, forgotten Western town.

"The dead come to me vulnerable, sharing their stories and secrets . . . "

Mary Crampton has spent all of her thirty years in Petroleum, a small Western town once supported by a powerful grain company. Living at home, she works as the embalmer in her father’s mortuary: an unlikely job that has long marked her as an outsider. Yet, to Mary there is a satisfying art to positioning and styling each body to capture the essence of a subject’s life.

Though some townsfolk pretend that the community is thriving, the truth is that Petroleum is crumbling away—a process that began twenty years ago when an accident in the grain elevator killed a beloved high school athlete. The mill closed for good, the train no longer stopped in town, and Robert Golden, the victim’s younger brother, was widely blamed for the tragedy and shipped off to live elsewhere. Now, out of the blue, Robert has returned to care for his terminally ill mother. After Mary—reserved, introspective, and deeply lonely—strikes up an unlikely friendship with him, shocking the locals, she finally begins to consider what might happen if she dared to leave Petroleum.

Set in America’s heartland, The Flicker of Old Dreams explores themes of resilience, redemption, and loyalty in prose as lyrical as it is powerful.



Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper Paperbacks,, [2018]
ISBN: 9780062686718
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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AnnabelleLee27 Mar 08, 2019

An evocative and poignant novel which breaths with a well-developed sense of place. The main character is interesting and unusual (in all the best ways) and her emotional awakening through the story is touching. However, some parts moved too slowly or were repetitive and the ending (while hopeful) felt unfinished or vague.

Nicr Feb 26, 2018

Vivid portrayal of small-town life and yearning.

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