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Dreamland is fairly typical of Kelland's novels: a protagonist with a heavy chip on his shoulder and an unrequited love. To prove himself worthy to his dream girl, he must take on a herculean task. He'll always end up with a girl (though not always the one he thinks he wants) and he'll usually end up being the best man for the job (whatever it may be).
In this case, the hero is Hadrian Pink (renamed to Eddie Pink in the film). He's an academic who has been taking tutoring jobs to stay in academia without the added responsibility of lecturing. To get over his shyness he starts following the "Character Builders" method of self assertion in hopes of winning the attention of Adriadne Joyce, a senator's daughter he's only ever seen in newspaper clippings.
Hadrian, though, can't settle for using his new-found voice to be a better tutor or even a lecturer. No, in true 1930s screwball comedy fashion, he talks himself into being the president of Dreamland, a new (and yet to be opened) amusement park. Hadrian though can't keep his mouth shut and ends up taking on the mob in the process of getting Dreamland opened and profitable.
From the small selection of Kelland books I've read so far I found Dreamland to be rather average. Hadrian didn't strike me a very believable academic even if he was a humorous executive later on. Hadrian's dialogue throughout the novel tends towards overly wordy as an attempt to make him sound educated and perhaps out of step with the general public. The dialogue comes off as forced and painful to read at times.
As a screwball comedy, though, it was still entertaining. I kept on reading to see if Hadrian Pink would get himself out of the trouble he had created and if Dreamland would open. What Kelland does with Adriadne Joyce at the end took me by pleasant surprise.
My other Kelland reviews to date include: