Monday, May 10, 2021

Book Review: "A Theater for Dreamers" by Polly Samson

In Polly Samson's upcoming book, A Theater for Dreamers, a young woman learns about life and herself when she spends time amidst writers and artists on a Greek island.

(First things first, I want to be where this book cover is. It’s the Greek island of Hydra, and I’m adding it to my post-COVID travel bucket list.)

It's 1960, and 18-year-old Erica is reeling from the death of her mother. When she reads a book by the Australian author Charmian Clift (who was friends with her mother) set on Hydra, Erica decides to escape the oppression of her abusive father and travel to Hydra with her boyfriend, an aspiring writer, and her older brother.

When they arrive on the island, Erica finds it an artists’ colony of sorts, led by Charmian and her writer husband, George. Erica tries to find inspiration for her own writing, she also grows closer to Charmian, as she tries to find out more about her mother and her secrets.

Meanwhile, the drama factor on the island rises with the advent of a love triangle which includes the young poet Leonard Cohen (later the singer of “Hallelujah,” among other things). The passions, pains, infidelities, and repercussions show Erica a side of relationships she hadn’t been aware of, and the events on the island will change her inexorably.

A Theater for Dreamers meshes real events and people with fictional ones. It’s an interesting story in a beautiful setting, but at times the imagery of the setting almost overpowers the narrative. There’s a lot going on here, with a lot of characters, so there was real power in the emotions of the story, but also it got a bit overwhelming.

Thanks to Algonquin Books for inviting me on the blog tour, and providing me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review!

A Theater for Dreamers publishes 5/11.

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