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When Dreams Become a Reality - an Editorial Review of "Maggie's Dream"

Book Blurb:

When World War II drags Maggie Lerner’s husband off to Europe, Maggie joins the workforce as one of America’s Rosies. Though she savors her freedom, she is haunted by a dream that leads her to believe something terrible will happen to her husband. After the war, Sam returns home unscathed, and Maggie, who once again takes her place as a doctor’s wife, believes the dream will disappear. Instead, it evolves into an all-consuming world where Maggie is admired for her strength; where she can have whatever she wishes. Resenting her conventional life, she willingly surrenders to the temptation of imagined perfection.But all is not as it seems. Beneath the dream’s flawless surface, a monster lies in wait. In an era of post-war feminism and the latest in psychoanalysis, Maggie will need to confront this evil—whether real or imagined—before it destroys both her worlds.

Author Bio:

Leslie Tall Manning is an award-winning novelist who writes about grownups craving change and discovering it in ways they never expected (KNOCK ON WOOD, GAGA, and MAGGIE's DREAM). She also writes about teenagers who tumble into adulthood headfirst (RULES OF FALLING, UPSIDE DOWN IN A LAURA INGALLS TOWN, and I AM ELEPHANT, I AM BUTTERFLY). When she isn’t clacking away at the computer keys or conducting research for her books, she loves walking by the river in her historic Southern town, traveling with her artist husband, and laughing every chance she gets.

She is proudly represented by the TriadaUS Literary Agency.


Sarton Women's Literary Award

North Carolina Author Project Award

Self-e Library Journal Selection

IndieBrag Medallion

Readers' Choice

Certificate of Excellence

Firebird Award

Taleflick Top Pick

International Book Award Finalist

Author Updates:

UPSIDE DOWN IN A LAURA INGALLS TOWN is currently being adapted into a stage play!

To get to know Leslie better, please visit

Or connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Wordpress

Editorial Review:


Do not take tranquilizers, my love. They are only supported by the new brain-digging enthusiasts who believe that a pill can cure anything. Here, we doctors dispense morphine like bartenders serve martinis, but it only masks the true scars these men have acquired; scars they will have to deal with once the physical pain dissolves.

This book is not to be taken at face value, as there is more to this complex book than meets the eye. While sometimes bizarre and curious, the narrative delves into the conscious life of Maggie Lerner as a typical 1940s housewife awaiting the return of her husband from the war, as opposed to the subconscious dream world she creates in order to cope with the loneliness and anxiety facing many women during that time period. So many housewives were forced into a different destiny, having to take on the role of bringing in the bacon, while their husbands fought against Germany, in grease-ridden factories and wielding power tools. Thus began the “Rosie the Riveter” era and the surge of feminism as many women realized the power and strength they had to offer instead of just serving up casseroles in their ruffled aprons and painted nails.

These women were living testimony that they had supported their men and nation for months or, for some, years. Breaking their backs until the war ended, until the government informed America's Rosies that their shift was permanently over. It was time to get back to neglected kitchens, modern appliances, creative casseroles. Time to redo hair and nails, shave legs and underarms, shop at Sears for new garters and the latest in stockings. After all, the GI's deserved a grand homecoming.

Maggie becomes haunted by her dream, this other world where everything appears so perfect and pristine, yet she begins to believe it is just because of her worries about her husband and her desire that he return home soon. Yet, after he does, and she reinserts herself into the 'housewife' role after her job is given back to the returning soldiers, the dream blossoms into something she did not expect. Before long, she begins to believe that her dream is a manifestation of her desire for more freedom, where she is a powerful goddess with the ability to save lives and surrender to her deepest temptations. Within the dream, she meets a man named John who she becomes obsessed with, even after meeting with a psychoanalyst who tries to help her understand the meaning and symbols of the dream. A monster, or hidden truth, lies in wait in the dream, something Maggie must face... yet as she succumbs to a constant need for tranquilizers in order to initiate the dream, the line between reality and fantasy fades, especially as her desire for John grows.

Depression often wears a mask,” the doctor explained. “You may not recognize your depression right at this moment or in your daily routine. You may be too busy to notice it, or unconsciously escaping from it in one way or another. But during sleep, well, that's when things really get going. Dreams are the windows to the subconscious. Our subconscious minds won't allow us to get very far without trying to show us there is something amiss. Our subconscious doesn't lie.”

In a very unexpected way, the reader is immersed in Maggie's dream, as you probe, along with her, the real meaning behind what is going on. While at times unbelievable in the depiction, which most dreams are, when the revelation of what is really going on comes to light, you are left stunned. However, as a reviewer, the details of the revelation feel somewhat glazed over, or at least there appears not to be enough explanation of how the actual event which sparked the dream developed. In other words, without giving away any spoilers, I wanted more about the actual triggering event and the ultimate consequences not only for Maggie's dream man, John but for the subsequent consequences for Maggie. There are things hinted at in the storyline at the end which make me wonder and conclude, but not conclusive, leaving me with a question such as, “who's the baby's father?” and “what happened to John?”

The world you've created in your dreams is without the frustration that comes with having to worry about someone else's emotional tribulations, least of all your own. It's as close to perfection as you can get. John's world beyond the castle door represents what you can't have. Or, what you know you shouldn't have.

For the most part, this enjoyable read is full of psychological thrills, and how our own dreams enable us to cope with the tragedies which inundate our real world. During the WWII era, when psychoanalysis and depression-diagnosis were frowned upon and never talked about, much less addiction to prescription drugs, a time when the ideals of the “Leave It To Beaver” and “Stepford Wives” housewives were the ideal, women were boxed into this stereotype regardless of the possible struggles and depression they faced brought on by the war. Many men came home suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which was not recognized for decades later, but the wives left at home also suffered great emotional turmoil. But as was that era, the men and the women felt the societal demands to 'get on with things', so this book gives an unusual viewpoint from the perspective of a wife stuck between two worlds... and from facing an unexpected trauma which her dream, ultimately, reveals. While the structure and character development of the narrative is superb, one must give into the fantasy of the dream in order to understand the necessity of the silliness sometimes in comparison to the stark reality facing Maggie. After all, dreams often do not make sense but bubble forth from hidden things in our subconscious. Manning does a great job in melding the two together into an enjoyable and unexpected read.

There is no such thing as a perfect world,” Maggie told the woman, realizing the truth in her own words. “No matter how much you yearn for it, your search will be futile.”


Maggie's Dream” by Leslie Tall Manning receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company

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