Saturday, January 28

Book Review: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

Title: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

Author: Wayne Johnston

Pages: 562

Summary: A mystery and love spanning five decades, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is an epic portrait of relentless ambition. Two of the most irresistible characters ever encountered in fiction grace its pages: Joe Smallwood, who claws his way from obscurity to become Newfoundland’s first premier; and Sheilagh Fielding, a popular newspaper columnist who casts a haunting shadow over Smallwood’s life and career.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Wonderfully written, with a great exploration of the history of Newfoundland, the book was exceptionally well done.

The writing style was what initially pulled me in, has the prose and flow of the book come together nicely, and help create the atmosphere of the book and Newfoundland, what kept m reading was learning about the vast history of the province and the history behind the main character. I love learning all the background history from the initial discovery of it, to modern times. It was in-depth and tied into the story well. I never found the historical fiction accounts of Newfound lad overtook the rest of the story, but instead added an interesting element to it, and helped move it along. At times, the province (which for most of the book, was its own country) almost is a character on its own. But I thought the author created a wonderful picture of Newfoundland and its history.

I also enjoyed the story of Smallwood and his climb from the bottom to the top, it may be a bit of a cliché, of a young man with a poor family who beats the odds and succeeds in politics - but I didn't find that to be the case in the book. I enjoyed following Smallwood and his fight to make something for himself. The author did a fantastic job at creating a very in-depth character.

The way the book was written was well done and interesting, as it was broken into sections and at the beginning of the chapters, so to speak, was small passages on the history of Newfoundland - which I really enjoyed and found them to be very interesting. I also enjoyed the passages of Fielding's history of Newfoundland between the sections of the book.

What I didn't like was Fielding's big mystery. It was revealed to be one thing part way through the book, which I excepted, but then near the end of the book, it was revealed to be something else - which I didn't like. One, I thought the final revelation came out of left field, characters were mentioned and talked about that didn't have much effect of the rest of the book and it really felt like it was thrown in there, and it didn't flow well with the rest of the book. I also felt that it was properly wrapped up in the end of the book or with the characters involved - it was mentioned, it seemed to have a big impact on the characters, then it was forgotten. I think it would have been better if the "conclusion" the mystery used midway through the book was used, it seemed to fit better with the book. I also found some of the development of the characters, mainly the minor ones, forced as well as some of their character attributes - which isn't a big deal, because you won't ever like all the characters in the book, but I found some were used to much, and they got boring quickly. Otherwise, a fantastic book, and a wonderful historical account on Newfoundland.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a very enjoyable read. A bit of a chunkster, but don't let that shy you away from the book.

What to read next: I'd read more from the author for starters. The Underpainter would also be a good choice to read.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Canadian Award Winners Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge V, Global Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge


  1. I don't know much about Newfoundland, but think that this book would be interesting not only for the information on that account, but for it's other aspects as well. I am glad that you mostly liked the story, but I can see why the mystery aspect niggled at you.

    1. I didn't know that much either, but this gave some really interesting snippets of the history. The "mystery" part of it was just overdone, it's not a mystery like a crime, but a dark secret kind of mystery, but it just was overdone. But it's yet another book well worth reading.

  2. Wow, Johnston has been on my TBR pile for ages and I have only read The Divine Ryans by him. One of these days I am going to get to this one and the other books I have by him.

    1. I hope you get to this one soon, excellent read. I may have to check out his others, perhaps the one you mentioned may me a good start.