Polly Samson has written it all – short stories, bestselling novels, and haunting lyrics for her husband and frequent collaborator, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. But when she and her family visited the Greek island of Hydra a few years ago, after her last book, Samson stumbled into the intoxicating world of another celebrated female writer – the gifted and troubled Australian author Charmian Clift. “In the house where we were staying was a memoir written in 1955 about her family’s life in Hydra,” said Samson, who became entranced by the artists’ colony that included Clift and her husband, writer George Johnston, as well as painters, poets and a young Canadian musician named Leonard Cohen. As their words and songs filled her head, Samson realized she had a novel on her hands. In “A Theater for Dreamers,” Samson explores the adventures, passions and betrayals of that time, and calculates the cost of “the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius” both then and now.
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