Today, it’s a book review of a book that I took part in a read along for that I finished on the weekend! It’s the wonderful A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson.
I read this book as part of a read-a-long with Tandem Collective alongside a number of different people on Instagram and it was a joy to read, especially as it was my first read-a-long! But before we go any further, what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:
1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.
Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.
Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.
Sounds great, right? I’ve never read anything from Polly Samson before but this book intrigued me. I just love the title, it’s just gorgeous and I love the cover, too. I also didn’t know that much about this story or the people in the story, either. But I think that’s a good thing – going in blind, enjoying the story and then googling for hours on end afterwards. In this novel, Samson mixes the factual with the fictional where we meet Leonard Cohen, Marianne Ihlen, Axel Jensen, Charmain Clift, George Johnston but our main protagonist is Erica, a teenager, who arrives on the island after the loss of her mother and she watches the creative circle unravel into chaos…
This is the perfect book to read right now with what’s going on in the world. The writing is lush, absorbing and you feel you’re on the island of Hydra yourself! It really is that good – especially early on in the book when she describes the island and we see it through Erica’s eyes. The writing is great throughout the book, too. I love the character of Erica, I thought she was a great way into this world and I loved seeing her at the end of the book, looking back on her time on the island.
There’s a lot to take from this book, especially in its themes. It’s about creativity, pursuing your dreams, innocence, love, marriage, gender roles in society, being a muse, death and grief, sexuality, and so much more. I really loved how Samson explored the idea of creativity in a number of different ways – it feels like a great inspired and creative novel in itself with a lot of heart and hope in there, too.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and being lost on the island of Hydra in 1960. A perfect book to escape into with gorgeous prose that you won’t be able to put down. Lush, absorbing, addictive. I couldn’t put it down. There’s no wonder why this is a bestseller.
A big thank you to Tandem Collective and Bloomsbury for my copy of the book and for my spot on the read-a-long too!
Have you read A Theatre For Dreamers? Are you going to read it? Let me know in the comments!