Review

Drives Like a Dream

by Porter Shreve



Sixty-one-year-old Lydia Modine will soon adjust to changing
circumstances in her life. Her ex-husband, chameleon Cy Modine, is
to marry Ellen --- twenty-five years his junior --- and Lydia's
three grown children will arrive to attend their father's wedding.
Lydia expects the day to play out according to her expectations,
complete with their sharing of childhood memories. She hopes that
one of the three will move back to Detroit --- they are scattered
from one coast to the other.

Cy's last-minute request of her to look in on his new in-laws puts
a kink in Lydia's schedule. Ellen, his new wife, is an only child,
with parents who don't support the union. Self-supporting, Lydia
has written books on the automobile history of Detroit, its luster
and its downturns. Ellen's father is retired from the auto industry
and has perhaps known Lydia's own father, deceased auto designer
for Ford, Tucker and GM. Tucker was a company that teetered on the
brink of success, with her father's design for a car, which was
futuristic for its time but destined to fail. A financial scandal,
with court proceedings yielding no wrongdoing, put Tucker out of
business, with Lydia's father going over to GM.

DRIVES LIKE A DREAM is the story of Lydia's schemes to reunite her
children in Detroit and entice their return to her. Writing her
history books takes the roadmap on an unexpected detour, however,
when she wanders into the automobile history museum on the day of
Cy's wedding. The curator helps her use the Internet, with an
introduction to email. Soon she's tangled in a relationship online
with a brash hippie-professor with progressive ideas about the auto
industry. His lectures draw Lydia into discussion and eventually a
luncheon date.

Lydia disagrees with Norm's ideas but finds him interesting. She
weaves an intricate web of lies to her children and Cy's in-laws
about the relationship and soon swims in a sea of untruths. Instead
of confessing, she digs a deeper hole into the possibilities with
Norm. Hopelessly mired in liars' muck, she's comfortable with her
stories until her research into the Tucker downfall reaches a
crisis. She must justify her professional life with her personal
one.

Description in DRIVES LIKE A DREAM is over-generous. But the story
brings a smile to anyone who has heard of or driven the GM and Ford
antiquities Shreve describes. Nomad, muscle car, and Corvette are
but a few of the archived cars. Shreve exhibits extensive research
in the automobile archives. Lydia's books provide him the vehicle
to take us back in time for the view. But her private life, though
funny when her fibs become elephantine lies, is difficult to
accept. Jessica, Davey and Ivan question their mother's sanity at
one point, and rightly so. The final chapter races to conclusion
with a feeling of letdown. Lydia's purpose, with subsequent
distortion of truth, could have been stronger. She's both emotional
and flippant.

DRIVES LIKE A DREAM held the interest of this reader despite
questionable character development.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 21, 2011

Drives Like a Dream
by Porter Shreve

  • Publication Date: March 4, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • ISBN-10: 0618143319
  • ISBN-13: 9780618143313