It’s been six months since the initial series launch, and I’m so excited to be sharing a new title with you! This is one of my favorite titles in the entire series, and it’s the book that really pushed the series to grow into itself. The Dream Kingdom is Book 6, although as a timeline throwback, you could start here and not be confused. I do hope you’ll read the first five books at some point, of course.
Set in 1978, the story follows Blythe and Philip Hughes (Mimmy and Daddy, for those of you who have read books 1-5) as young parents in their quest to find a permanent home and establish themselves as adults. This book was written in response to me asking myself why the Hugheses didn’t have any extended family, and it took a very interesting, somewhat dark turn.
For the series aesthetic, I think the late 1970s is an important point in time. It’s the last gasp of what Muffy Aldrich calls ‘The Thing Before Preppy.’ This was two years before The Preppy Handbook was released and just before the aesthetic got co-opted by every single yuppie bond trader in the 1980s.
A large part of the series in general is the convergence of traditional values with the contemporary zeitgeist. The late 1970s was definitely a critical time for that. I’m starting to get weary of the generational culture wars the media keeps perpetrating, but Blythe does invent the phrase ‘Okay, Boomer.’ It was interesting to look at this time period because the main characters’ parents were born during the 1920s, their culture’s heyday, and are ill equipped to cope with its rapid decline.
I also wanted to explore something that I find equally horrifying and fascinating – mid-twentieth-century medicine, specifically behavioral health and obstetric care. A number of advances were made, but medicine was also still very rudimentary. I think the horrifying thing is that not only did our grandparents’ generation receive this type of care, but also it’s just modern enough to be recognizable. It’s more immediate than things like bloodletting and leeching because we can still talk to people that remember the days of twilight sleep childbirth, lobotomies and electroshock treatments. Obviously, these interventions had gone away by the late 1970s, but the parents of the main characters still suffer the aftereffects.
This is also the closest thing to a ‘historical’ book I plan to write, although it’s tempting to give both Blythe’s and Philip’s parents their own installments. I doubt that will ever happen, but I’m also sad that it’s the only book in which these four characters appear. I hope you love Penelope the First and her burns as much as I do.
Actually, I hope you love the entire book as much as I do. It’s available on Amazon as an eBook, in paperback, and in hardcover.