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A Theater for Dreamers

by Polly Samson

A Theater for Dreamers by Polly Samson X
A Theater for Dreamers by Polly Samson
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  • Published May 2021
    336 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 17 member reviews
for A Theater for Dreamers
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  • Mary L. (Greeley, CO)
    Through innocent eyes
    Through the eyes of 18-year-old Erica, we escape to the island of Hydra in 1960 and a cosmopolitan group of writers, artists, and a few young adults who, like Erica, each seek something not quite in their reach. Polly Samson creates, through almost poetic phrasing, both atmosphere and understanding of the Hydra lives of Charmian Clift, George Johnston, Leonard Cohen and others as they interact that one summer. But it is through Erica's eyes and life that the reader experiences Hydra--the loveliness and the broken hearts of one eventful summer. Then we have a few final glimpses of life after the 1960 Hydra summer.
  • Eileen C. (New York, NY)
    Watching the dreamers dream
    Recently, we watched the perfect pandemic television show, "The Durrells in Corfu." Although "A Theater for Dreamers" is set decades later and on the Greek island of Hydra rather than Corfu, it had the same memorizing quality. Samson uses the adventures of a fictional young woman, Erica to write about a group of real people — Charmian Clift, George Johnson, Axel Jensen, Marianne Ihlen, and Leonard Cohen —who are all trying to create art. Samson mixtures the fictional with the factual—which is both fascinating and, occasionally, jarring—in order to explore the role of the muse and how it affects women's own creativity. Sometimes meandering, this beautifully written novel pays homage to a group of damaged, but brilliant artists.
  • Rosanne S. (Franklin Square, NY)
    A Theater for Dreamers
    I was a school administrator for many years and there was a teacher who would often ask her class "what would happen if everyone did what they want?". 'A Theater for Dreamers' embodied that question to the max.

    At the beginning of this wild ride of a read, I was totally turned off and confused. Characters coming and going, changing, moving here and there, sleeping together and then not sleeping together, WHOA!!! Why keep reading???? Simply because it was enchanting and captivating and full of surprises right to the very last page.

    The biggest surprise to me was that it was all real. I know that I requested to receive a copy to review but I had forgotten why when the book arrived. I'm really glad that I did because I read the book completely unaware and in awe. The best got even better when I came to realize it was real people and a pretty real story.

    I highly recommend 'A Theater for Dreamers', open your mind to the wonder of it and enjoy.
  • Beth M. (New York, NY)
    Hydra is for dreamers
    I love, love, loved this book. What a fabulous read and the perfect escape for these times. Polly Samson's new novel is a wonderful snapshot of a glorious time (in the early 1960's) on the Island of Hydra. The descriptions are so poignant and accurate ( I was there 3 years ago). Narrated by16 year old Erica, it features an eclectic group of writer, poets, painters and musicians. Led by the writers Charmian Cleft and her husband George Johnson, their entourage includes Alex Jensen a destructive writer and his gorgeous wife, Marianne and the young Leonard Cohen. Wow! Their tangled lives and utopian dreams are fleshed out in beautiful, evocative prose. As their paradise splinters, pain and loss multiply. All the characters are human and flawed. I became so attached to their gossip,lives, and loves. I wanted to stay with them much longer. The ending was satisfying although I hope there's a second book.
  • Arlene I. (Johnston, RI)
    To Be or Not To Be..
    Welcome to the Island of Hydra in the 1960's. With a mixture of fictional and non-fictional characters,Polly Samson, gives the reader a chance to step back in time to one of the most decadent times in Greece. it was a roller coaster ride throughout the book. In order to make sense of the characters I do think knowledge of the "real characters" would help the reader get a sense of what it was to live in Hydra during this time period and who the real characters were. So I don't think this book can be what I call a "cold read".

    Kudos to the author for getting permission to use Leonard Cohan's material. I felt like i was there in Hydra listening to Cohen reading to a group. This made the book more authentic. The author showed that even the most talented did not have the best moral character. Quite the opposite, but Ms. Samson gave us a better inkling on what these characters were like in a story form rather than reading biographical material. Erica and Jimmy's character development grew throughout the book. Jimmy's ambition seemed to fit this era.

    The author pulled you into the decadence even though the cavorting characters were hard to keep up with.

    There were not clear cut answers to why the characters behaved they way they did. But outside a group of talented people, they behaved in a carefree, hippyish manner not justifying there actions to anyone and just doing what they wanted to do outside norms. If you were looking for a moral of the story you could probably add the tag line...being a muse is not all it's cracked up to be. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and during this pandemic it was great to get lost in a little history with some very famous people, no matter how outlandish I thought they were. I look forward to Ms. Samson's next book.
  • Julie Z. (Oak Park, IL)
    A Theater for Dreamers
    A sensual haze of a novel, set on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1960's. Young Erica has come to find herself after the loss of her mother. She reaches out to her mother's friend, Charmian Clift, a bohemian writer. She and her husband, George Johnston are surrounded by a group of artists, where a hedonistic life is the norm. Erica is with her boyfriend, her brother, and a few other friends, but soon becomes enmeshed in the lives of the older artists. As this was an ARC, I knew nothing of the book before reading, and am embarrassed to say that I did not know that Clift and Johnston were actual writers. Leonard Cohen also makes an appearance.
    This was a dream of a novel with sensuous and lush descriptions of the beauty of Greece. A small treat for those of us who cannot travel!
  • Jean B. (Naples, FL)
    What is this book
    This book could be just a beach read, telling a story of people enjoying a dream setting: beaches, inexspensive housing, heat, wine, sex and freedom. It could be a re-creation of a period of time in the lives of real authors and other creative persons. Maybe it's a story about lessons learned by a young person exposed to freedom. Or it is an indictment of selfish, egotistical, but talented men and the way they used women. It's all of these things, a story told through the eyes of young Erica.

    Most of the novel focuses on the freedom and the dream setting: endless partying, drinking, nudity, sexual inter-actions. It seemed frivolous and I was unaware that it was peopled by real authors and a period of time in their lives.

    The question the reader is left with is whether the creation of art excuses selfish and cruel behavior. Does genius excuse their behavior?
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