For our stop on The Water and the Wine #LoveBooksGroupTour, we have guest reviewer Tanya Kaanta with a review.
- Historical Fiction
♥ Blurb ♥
It is the 1960s and a group of young writers and artists gather on the Greek island of Hydra. Leonard Cohen is at the start of his career and in love with Marianne, who is also muse to her ex-husband, Axel. Australian authors George Johnston and Charmian Clift write, drink and fight. It is a hedonistic time of love, sex and new ideas. As the island hums with excitement, Jack and Frieda Silver join the community, hoping to mend their broken marriage. However, Greece is overtaken by a military junta and the artistic idyll is threatened.
♥ Author Info ♥
Growing up, Tamar Hodes’ neighbours were Leonard Cohen, his girlfriend Marianne, and other writers and artists on the Greek island of Hydra. Her parents took her to the island to pursue their own art and writing. However, the bohemian nature of Hydra destroyed their marriage. The Water and the Wine is a fictional account of those days.; Tamar Hodes’ first novel Raffy’s Shapes was published in 2006. She has had stories on Radio 4 and others in anthologies including Salt’s The Best British Short Stories 2015, The Pigeonhole, Your One Phone Call, the Ofi Press, MIR online and Fictive Dream. Tamar was born in Israel and lived in Greece and South Africa before settling in the UK. She read English and Education at Homerton College, Cambridge. For the past thirty-three years she has taught English in schools, universities and prisons.
♥ Book Review ♥
The Water and the Wine by Tamar Hodes
This was happily, an unexpected read for me. While I’m not quite savvy in art and music history, I feel like I glimpsed a snippet of history of some very famous figures. I was drawn into the story and found myself researching the biographies of Leonard Cohen and his muse, Marianne Ihlen, as well as George Johnston and Charmian Clift. I even hoped some of the fictional characters were real. Perhaps they are based on real people?
While the shifting of POV (Point of View)—sometimes multiple times within a chapter or even within a page—caught me off guard, I quickly normalized this type of narration and enjoyed the story and the prose. The Water and the Wine is most definitely a treat for the brain.
Centered around several couples living on the Greek island of Hydra, The Water and the Wine offers a snapshot of life for these erudite authors, painters, and musicians. As is the stereotype in the sixties, the couples all engage in free love. Sometimes with and sometimes without the knowledge of their partner. Although the love affairs are not the only highlights of the story, they are influential ones. Through the relationships, we’re able to understand the thought processes of these artists and how it jives with the social fabric of the 1960’s.
This may sound bawdy and illicit, but that’s far from the truth. In essence, Hodes is able to create a cinematic story with her words. One where I imagine myself a fly on the wall or a cog in each character’s brain. The words illustrate each page and bring the scenes to life.
‘The nineteenth-century romantic view of the great artist, on a cliff edge, like a Caspar David Friedrich painting surveying the landscape below, is a very dangerous portrayal of artists,’ said John.
‘Dangerous? Why?’ George’s face was angry, red, lined, blood staining his mouth.
‘Because the artist is looking down from his lofty heights onto society rather than being part of it, which links back to what we were saying about getting others to do our domestic work so that we can create and then be superior, but claim to be of the people.’
So philosophical and so insightful.
I loved reading the thoughts of these greats, whether they were the actual words or imagined—in keeping with their personalities and the historical framework.
This is the first time I’ve read any of Tamar Hodes’ novels, but it won’t be my last. I’m a new fan and can’t wait to delve into her backlist of novels.
Review by Tanya Kaanta for Love Books Group
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