14 May 2020, The Tablet

Images and shadows


A Theatre for Dreamers
(BLOOMSBURY circus, 368 PP, £14.99)
Tablet bookshop price £13.49 • Tel 020 7799 4064

It is the early spring of 1960 and 17-year-old Erica, drowning in a London typing pool, resolves to run away to the Greek island of Hydra. Her late mother’s old friend Charmian Clift has sent her a book called
Peel Me a Lotus, which entices her to the place – and besides, her mother’s dying words had challenged Erica to have some adventures, to dare to dream. She needs no further ­encouragement.

As she crosses the Aegean, the last, lingering memories of her evil-tempered father in rainy Bayswater evaporate, and when the island appears suddenly, shimmering, dazzling, serenely beautiful, her heart begins to sing. Under a brilliant sky, the ziggurats of white houses rise from the harbour in symmetrical tiers towards the gentle shoulders of the sheltering mountains. As the ferry docks, Erica is so bursting with excited anticipation that you literally hold your breath for her.

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