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Summary

The Sunday Times best seller and an Observer Fiction Highlight 2020

Featuring bonus track and original music from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.

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.

© 2020 Polly Samson All music by David Gilmour 'Yes, I Have Ghosts' Lyrics by Polly Samson. Performed by David Gilmour with Romany Gilmour. The moral right of the author has been asserted (p) 

2020 Polly Samson under license to W.F. Howes Ltd All music (p) 2020 David Gilmour Music Ltd. All songs Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd 

©2020 Polly Samson (P)2020 Polly Samson under license to W.F. Howes. All music (P) David Gilmour Music Ltd. All songs Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd Ltd. All music to David Gilmour Music Ltd

Critic reviews

"Delicious." (Nigella Lawson)

"A glorious novel." (Kate Mosse)

"If summer was suddenly like a novel, it would be like this one." (Andrew O'Hagan)

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What listeners say about A Theatre for Dreamers

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

cliché

Clichéd & poorly narrated. Polly should've got someone else to narrate this. Too irritating to continue.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Astoundingly descriptive

This book took me back to Hydra. Astoundingly descriptive, it gave me the holiday that, like may of us, I could not take this year. I could feel the heat of the sun, taste the retsina, hear the cicadas, smell the donkey shit. The list would be a long one. Equally generous is the insight into the characters; some fictional, others not. Not so much a story with twists, turns and a strong plot, it is rather a biopic journey over time of the lives, loves and struggles of the characters; the 'dreamers' starting in 1960. Getting drawn into gossip about their tangled lives would make this an excellent book club choice to chew over. The ending and wrapping- up was was a strong point about this story. I now miss the characters. I am keen to reading Samon's previous novel now.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Brilliantly executed and touching

The way the author has blended fiction and true events is extremely clever. The story is captivating, you feel like you are on the island with all of the gang.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Nothing Ever Happens

A very clever idea for a book to bring these characters to life again on Hydra. However, the storyline lacked any kind of thread or substance for me. It goes from one in-depth, scenic description to another, interrupted only by different ‘scenes’ featuring these shiftless characters. The narration was more than mildly annoying too. In particular the voice for the character of George, who sounds like a cross between Janet Street-Porter and Crocodile Dundee.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

disappointed

I really struggled to finish, disappointing end, felt rushed. Not as good as I hoped.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful escapism

Beautifully read by the author and lovely music . I was able to escape from the doom of Covid in Croydon to Hydra and very different people. Loved Polly’s song with her husband at the end. I learned a lot about Leonard Cohen too and re read my book of poems from the sixth form

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Irritating narration

I was so looking forward to this but it is spoilt by the narration- pity.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A book to read, not to listen to

Whilst clearly beautifully written, I was actually horrified by the narration, and then to realise it was read by the author! Exacting pronunciation, simpering and over expressive intonation - I had to put it on at 1.3 speed to get it over and done with. Huge shame.

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Beautiful book to lose yourself in

My second book I’ve read (listened to) by Polly Samson loved losing myself to the island mesmerising voice of Polly and beautiful music by David Gilmore This book has everything you could hope for and more The only disappointing part is it ends x

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Made me want to visit Hydra some day

I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan and so was interested in this story combining fiction and non-fiction. It began too slowly but loved all the detailed descriptions of Hydra. I got a real sense of what it must have been like in the 1960s. I loved the music in between the chapters reminding me of Cohen's work. Once completed, I enjoyed googling the real life characters and seeing what became of them. My only real feedback is generally authors should leave the narration to the real professionals (apart from Maya Angelou!)