The Passion Dream Book

“Otto keeps the promise of her first novel…The Passion Dream Book incorporates actual figures and events in its fictionalized world….A rare pleasure.” –The Seattle Times


The Passion Dream Book tells the story of a bohemian couple and the years they spend finding and losing each other.

Though most of the book takes place in the 20th century, it begins in Florence, during the height of the Italian Renaissance. A young woman, Guiletta Marcel, the only child of a respected, yet introverted painter, spends her childhood assisting her father in his studio, even though she lives in a time when women were not accepted as studio apprentices. Eventually, her days are divided between her informal apprenticeship with her father, modeling for yet another painter, and an involvement with Michelangelo as he sculpts David. She is sure of two things: she wants to be an artist (like the men in her life) and she will never be an artist.

The narrative jumps forward to 1918, with the story of Romy March, a descendant of Giulietta, another girl with artistic aspirations. When she falls in love with Augustine Marks, an African-American photograph, Romy’s wealthy white family disown her. Inclination and necessity pushes them toward “outsider lives”. They journey from place to place -- Hollywood of the silent films, Harlem during its renaissance, Paris at the end of the 20s, World War II London -- separately and together, until they realize in Beat Generation San Francisco that only love brings them back again and again.

Select Reviews

“A beautifully written, marvelously resonant tale that entertains as it illuminates.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
The Passion Dream Book is a thrilling achievement.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Fascinating characters.” –The New York Times
“Otto has created something wonderful–a book about art and ambition that is intelligent, romantic and beguiling.” –The Tennessean
“Exhilarating….much like life itself” –Marie Claire
“Otto is a fiction writer whose work stands out as original.” –The Oregonian
“Readers who love to immerse themselves in the romance of bohemian times will find much to savor here.” –Chicago Tribune