Dream in Color: A Novel

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Overview

Victoria’s marriage is on the rocks, and she copes by daydreaming about fantasy men. But can these fantasies help fix her real life?

At age twenty-five, Victoria Chandler has a husband with a good job, a five-year-old daughter, Reese, and a house in the suburbs. She should be happy with her life. But she’s not. She suspects that her husband, Gerald, is having an affair, and she finds her loveless marriage a big disappointment. But Victoria ...
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Overview

Victoria’s marriage is on the rocks, and she copes by daydreaming about fantasy men. But can these fantasies help fix her real life?

At age twenty-five, Victoria Chandler has a husband with a good job, a five-year-old daughter, Reese, and a house in the suburbs. She should be happy with her life. But she’s not. She suspects that her husband, Gerald, is having an affair, and she finds her loveless marriage a big disappointment. But Victoria stays married for the sake of her daughter. And to get by, she starts daydreaming about two fantasy men: James, a very handsome man she meets at a club, and Michael, a rock star.

As she ponders her attraction to these men, Victoria slowly realizes that her marriage to Gerald is doomed—they’re just not meant to be together. Inspired by the freedom that she exhibits in her fantasies, Victoria develops a plan to escape her marriage and create the reality that she’s always wanted.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A woman in a loveless marriage retreats into an elaborate fantasy world in Darlene Johnson's previously self-published Dream in Color. Victoria and Gerald Jordan married because she was pregnant; now their daughter is five years old, the marriage is in a shambles and Victoria suspects he's having an affair. She copes by inventing two dream lovers: James, a 17-year-old high school student, and Michael, a white rock star. The former "affair" is mostly platonic, while the latter contains all manner of fireworks-a wedding, drug addiction, betrayal-though neither really makes any sense. While slightly more imaginative than similar romances, the fantasy gimmick seems like an effort to distract readers from the lack of plot.
Kirkus Reviews
A new African-American imprint banks on women readers feeling dissatisfaction with the men in their life-or so it would seem from this thinny-thin first outing, initially self-published, about a sadly married young woman and her desperate daydreams. There are two serious romances going on in Cincinnati schoolteacher Victoria Jordan's life, and neither involves her indifferent husband of five years, Gerald, who is also the father of her daughter. One of Victoria's fantasies involves Michael Prince, a world-famous British rock star she meets backstage after winning tickets to his concert; the two proceed to fall in love after a night in his luxury hotel room, marry, then try to stay that way despite his drug habit. Victoria's other fantasy is about a 17-year-old she meets at a disco, a student in her school by the name of James, who begs her to marry him before he goes off to George Washington University. In zippy chapters, the narrative shifts from first to third person, Victoria appearing sometimes in the arms of one man, sometimes the other, but her bliss always undercut by the gloomy facts of her actual marriage to a man who never loved her in the first place but married her because she got pregnant. Pat characterizations and cliched settings, lacking strength of their own, may be the cause of Johnson's ongoing attempt to win the reader by sheer earnestness of dialogue. An overall murkiness reigns, and the balance is tipped into incredulity in the end, when there's a reconciliation with white stud Michael. All along we've waited for Victoria to face her own life-but there's always the safety net of a nice man she just met, someone who's waiting for a nod from her before starting theromance of her life. Escapism for the unhappily marrieds: silly and depthless.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375758416
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/9/2002
  • Series: Strivers Row Series
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Darlene Johnson lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her two sons. She is currently working on her second novel, As We Lay. She would love to know what you think of Dream in Color, and you can e-mail her at brandywinepub@aol.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Tonight I was willing to forget all that and become a partner. Perhaps afterward Gerald would notice the difference as well and respond to me as a partner rather than just an object for getting off.

When I walked into the house, I followed the sound of voices into the family room. Gerald and our daughter, Reese, were sitting on the sofa wines and champagne. I chose a sparkling white that best resembled what I hoped would be the mood of the evening, energetic and definitely bubbly. I ran back upstairs and placed the bottle and two of our best goblets into the freezer for a quick chill. Witd at them and walked to the window and pulled the curtains back, letting the remaining rays of sunlight strike me and add more heat to a kettle that was about to boil over.

“Gerald,” I said, bouncing on the sofa beside him and taking his hand. I followed his eyes as he looked first at my hand touching him and then at me. “I asked Stephanie to watch Reese for a few hours for us tonight.”

Gerald squinted.

“So that you and I can enjoy a nice, relaxing evening alone.” I leaned forward and gently kissed his cheek.

Gerald pulled back from me. “What’s up?” he asked in his usual suspicious tone.

“Nothing. I just want to spend some time with you. Some real time. We haven’t done that in a while.”

He continued to look at me suspiciously.

“Nothing is up. I promise. I just want to spend some time together. Cook a nice dinner,
listen to some good music, and have some fun.” My faint grin hinted of enticement.

Gerald picked up on the tone and nodded. “Sounds goodto me,” he replied.

I was surprised that he didn’t turn me down cold and cite my disinterest in sex and anything associated with it as the reason. Perhaps he was missing that integral part of our relationship as well. I knew that one night wasn’t going to send the five-year downward spiral of our marriage into an upturn, but it was a start, and we needed that more than anything else.

“Wonderful!” I exclaimed. “You go ahead and drop Reese off while I get things started here.” I jumped off the sofa and practically ran into the kitchen to start our meal. A few minutes later I heard the door close, but not before Gerald yelled into the kitchen that he’d be right back. With that, I began preparing for a date with my husband.

The entrée of choice was his favorite, salmon steak. I covered two large, pink steaks in a special lemon marinade that was a recipe from Gerald’s mother and set them in the refrigerator. I started cooking some wild rice and prepared the asparagus to steam later while the salmon cooked.

I ran to the cellar to select a bottle from our collection of prized , splattering some, but at that moment I wouldn’t have cared if the food was smeared all over the kitchen wall. I never wanted to see salmon steak again.

“Oh, shit,” I murmured, and rushed to the freezer. I cringed as I pulled open the door and peered insih a push of the remote control, I started the CD player.

I stood in the middle of the living room with my hands folded in front of me. I closed my eyes and listened to the smooth melody. Pleased, I nodded, then returned to the kitchen to finish dinner.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Victoria knows that she and Gerald are no longer in love. Based on Gerald’s actions toward Victoria, do you think that there was ever a time when they were in love? Do you think Gerald feels that Victoria “trapped” him by getting pregnant? Did she? Did Victoria and Gerald make the right decision to get married when Victoria found out that she was pregnant? Would you marry a man you didn’t love if you found out that you were pregnant with his child?

2. When Victoria dreams up James, she envisions him as being much younger than she is. James is barely seventeen when Victoria meets him. Why do you think Victoria fantasizes about a man so much younger than she is? Does Victoria do something morally wrong by dating James when she’s a teacher in his school district? Are there certain people whose attraction to each other transcends age?

3. Victoria sleeps with Michael a few hours after she meets him. The next morning, when she wakes up and he’s not there, she feels ashamed of her decision. Should Victoria had maintained her original conviction that she would not have a one night stand with Michael? Would it have been better for Victoria to have had one incredible night with Michael or never to have gotten involved with him? Given the chance, would you consider sleeping with a celebrity? With whom and under what circumstances?

4. When James’s parents find out that he’s dating an older woman, they are appalled. But, once they meet Victoria, they begin to accept the relationship. Do you think that James’s parents make the right decision? Why do you think they change their minds about the relationship after they meetVictoria? Should parents be able to determine whom their seventeen-year-old child dates? Is the child obligated to heed his parents’ wishes?

5. Victoria tells herself that Reese would be devastated if she and Gerald ever split up. Do you think this is true? Should two parents feel obligated to stay together for the sake of their child? Does Reese seem to notice that her parents don’t get along very well? How long do you think you can hide a failing marriage from a child?

6. Before Michael, Victoria had never dated a white man before. Then, suddenly, she finds herself falling in love with one. Why do you think Victoria changes her policy about dating white men when she meets Michael? Do you think that his incredible fame has anything to do with her decision? Are there any times when their relationship seems strained because Michael is white and Victoria is black? Would you consider being in an interracial relationship? Why or why not?

7. Victoria knows, almost from the very beginning, that Michael drinks and does drugs. When she asks him not to, he agrees to abstain in her presence. Is it right for Victoria to expect Michael to change his lifestyle for her? Are drinking and drugs just an inevitable part of a rock star’s life? After they’re married and Victoria finds out that Michael continues to do drugs, why does she tolerate it and stay with him? Would you stay in a relationship with someone who did drugs regularly? Do you think it’s possible to convince someone to stop doing drugs, as Victoria tries to convince Michael?

8. Victoria dreams up James and Michael as a way to cope with her failing marriage. Are these daydreams a healthy way for Victoria to escape the unhappiness in her marriage? Does Victoria get too wrapped up in her daydreams? Is it all right to fantasize about other men once you’re married? Have you daydreamed about other men? Would you ever let your spouse know about your daydreams?

9. Victoria finally realizes that she will never be happy if she stays with Gerald. So, she takes her daughter Reese and heads off to California. Do you think that Victoria will be able to make a fresh start? Is Victoria wrong to take off without telling Gerald about her plans? Do you think that Victoria leaves James and Michael behind for good when she heads to California? How do you think Reese will take such a sudden change in her life?

10. One of the most difficult parts of Victoria’s relationship with Michael is that they’re constantly followed by paparazzi. Is it possible for an international celebrity to maintain any kind of private life? Does the public have a right to know about the intimate details of celebrities’ lives? Is public scrutiny something that celebrities must learn to accept? Why do you think people are interested in celebrities’ personal lives? Do you follow the lives of any celebrities?

11. Even though Gerald doesn’t love Victoria, he’s proud that he makes enough money to support himself, Victoria, and Reese. Should Victoria be more appreciative of the fact that her husband pays for them to have a nice house in the suburbs? Would Victoria have left Gerald sooner if she had a good job and felt financially independent? Once you’re married, does it matter who makes more money? Is it all right for one partner to support the other, or should everything be split 50/50?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2002

    So confused my head hurts

    Although the stories in this book were interesting it was so confusing that I almost didn't finish. The only reason that I finished the book was to see if the author ever straightened out this mess.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2002

    Freshingly confusing and juicy

    The first 15 pages are what hook you in. It gets a little cumbersome to digest after about 75 pages or so, but its juicy enough to finish. It's like having three novels in one book, you just have to keep up with the stories! Overall it's a good read. Don't pay for the hard cover though.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2002

    I absolutely loved this book!!!

    I loved this book. I loved that her DayDreams weren't all pretty and that she was raped, abused and left.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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