A Theater for Dreamers, by Polly Samson

This book and the audiobook are now available in the US! I highly recommend the audiobook. The author, Polly Samson, reads it aloud, and her husband provides the soundtrack. This is a particularly big deal when the husband is David Gilmour, the guitar player and vocalist for Pink Floyd, and Polly one of the Pink Floyd lyricists. The book is set on the Greek island of Hydra (pron. EEdra) in the early 1960s, when singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was living there. The story centers on young adult ‘Erica’ who has escaped the family home of her youth at the Palace Court Bayswater in London. Her recently deceased mother was once a peer of the artists and poets Erica encounters that summer in Hydra. Several of the characters will have recognizable names from that decade. The book is a sublime story and listening experience.

It’s been a long time since I pre-ordered a book, but this one I pre-ordered on the day I found out it would soon be available in my country. I was not disappointed. It transports the reader and listener to 1960s Hydra, during this time in 2021, when the world has endured a year of no travel. It is a soothing escape. I’ve listened to it in the house via my Alexa speakers. But it would be ideal for listening on a chaise or swing in the back yard, or at the beach. or a campground. If you are seeking an escape, it’s right here. Bring your headphones.

There are many mentions in the book of the Palace Court Bayswater in London. That is where Erica the main character, grew up. I’m vividly transported there with every mention, because in 2013, I stayed at the Palace Court in Bayswater. If the walls could talk. It was home to several famous musicians back in the 1960s. It is now closed, but hopefully not being renovated and cleansed of its spirits. I looked back through my pictures of that trip and realized I didn’t take any pictures of my rented flat. It’s as if I knew I couldn’t capture the essence in an image. And it’s true, I couldn’t have.

David Gilmour and Romany Gilmour released this lovely song and video in conjunction with the book. It has a Pink Floyd feel, and a Leonard Cohen feel, set along the streets, walkways and waters edge of Hydra.

Want to watch and listen to more of the Gilmour-Samsons? During the pandemic lockdown, they recorded a series of videos called the ‘Von Trapped Family’. Here’s the series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9WIFlFQk54&list=PLsDZ7QcsbDR8ty8ebVrbQ2tXDw3Nxkbb8

15 thoughts on “A Theater for Dreamers, by Polly Samson

  1. I remember reading about this and of course the song. The book sounded interesting when I first heard about it .

    I never heard of Hydra but I have heard of Cyprus (near Greece) that was closed in 1974 and everything there is just like it was.

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    1. I didn’t know anything about Hydra, but the book and video made me intrigued. Today I looked up some of the streets and the harbor. It’s lovely, and as you describe, seems frozen in time. I’ll look up Cyprus tomorrow.

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  2. I got this alert and this is the place I was thinking of…in the mid seventies everyone got out of the country and it is frozen like it was…if you get time it is interesting to just look at some of the pictures that people snuck in this place have taken…to see the “new” cars, clothes in window shops…let me loose in that place for an hour…I would love it.

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      1. I kept thinking…I didn’t give her the right place…I saw a google alert I have this morning and I knew I didn’t give you the right place. They keep saying they are going to open it again. All the stars would go there at that time.

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      2. I’m surprised I didn’t mention it before, but this reminds me of an abandoned town in Colorado: Gilman, maybe 20 miles west of Vail. It was evacuated in 1984 because of pollution. Access is restricted now, but years ago you could drive the streets and see the homes and businesses looking like people had just left for work and would be home later.

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      3. I think I remember that…I wonder what polluted it more than other areas?
        I also remember a town that a coal mine caught on fire and still burning underground to this day…it started in the sixties.

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