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“I suppose I ought to warn you at the outset that my present circumstances are puzzling,even to me. Nevertheless, I am sure of this much: My little story has become your history. You won’t really understand your times until you understand mine.” So begins the account of Agnes Shanklin, the charmingly diffident narrator of DREAMERS OF THE DAY. And what is Miss Shanklin’s “little story”? Nothing less than the creation of the modern Middle East at the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, where Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence, and Lady Gertrude Bell met to decide the fate of the Arab world–and of our own.
A forty-year-old schoolteacher from Ohio, Agnes has come into a modest inheritance that allows her to take the trip of a lifetime to Egypt. Arriving at the Semiramis Hotel just as the Peace Conference convenes, Agnes enters into the company of the historic luminaries who will, in the space of a few days at a hotel in Cairo, invent the nations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. As Agnes observes the tumultuous inner workings of nation-building, she is drawn more and more deeply into geopolitical intrigue and toward a personal awakening.
With graceful and effortless prose, Mary Doria Russell illuminates the long, rich history of the Middle East through a story that brilliantly elucidates today’s headlines. DREAMERS OF THE DAY is a memorable and passionate novel.