by Gen LaGreca
"When men understand that their greatest gift is their intelligence, that their glory is to use it, that their own will is their trusted guide to chart their course, that their labors are theirs to choose, that the fruits of them are theirs to keep, and that surrendering this immense power to the rule of others is beneath the dignity of man---that is when the new age will soar to heights unimaginable." (p 281)
While reading A Dream of Daring I was reminded of John Stuart Mill who wrote in chapter three of On Liberty (“On Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-being”) a passionate defense of individuality and diversity, and the liberty that allows them to flourish.
Gen LaGreca in A Dream of Daring has written a passionate historical novel where the wings of the idea of freedom of thought, liberty, and individual responsibility allow the hero and heroine to achieve their dreams. Added to the historical setting of the antebellum South is a suspense-filled murder mystery with plot developments, including the theft of Thomas's revolutionary invention, building to an exciting action-filled and emotionally satisfying ending. More important are the ideas that motivate the characters furnishing a foundation for the story. This makes A Dream of Daring a great novel.
The author demonstrates-- through the actions of the hero, Thomas Edmunton, and the heroine, introduced as "Solo"; but also the actions of their antagonists-- a battle of good versus evil, the willingness to take bold action versus the foolish consistency of attachment to a dying cultural tradition, and the importance of moral principles for man's survival. The characters are developed effectively beginning with the hero who at the onset of the novel is "out of step with the world around him", but who gradually discovers both why that is true and what the implications of it are. The demonstration of the importance of freedom, responsibility, and learning occurs not only through the heroic actions of Thomas and Solo, but also through those of the supporting characters, particularly Jerome who flourishes once he is given the freedom to pursue his passion by Thomas. The development of characters and the ideas they represent is presented as sort of mystery of discovery echoing the mystery of murder and the theft of Thomas's invention. It is the interplay of these ideas, the development and growth of the characters, and the resolution of the action that impressed this reader. The author wrote with a lucid prose style and enriched the story with mythological and literary references. These factors combined with the power of ideas lifted the novel beyond the bounds of history and suspense and into the realm of inspiration. It was a journey that could only be taken on the wings of ideas.
A Dream of Daring by Gen LaGreca. Winged Victory Press, Chicago. 2013