Hydra: A Theatre for Dreamers

Hydra: A Theatre for Dreamers

"The port of Hydra sweeps into view suddenly, dramatically, like a curtain has been raised between mountains. The symmetry of stone walls and mansions imposes a perfect horseshoe around the water where tiers of white houses rise like the seats of an amphitheatre. It's a magic trick from barren rock, a theatre for dreamers. The stage is lit by sun and sea..."

If you’ve ever been on a ferry pulling into Hydra’s charming port, you will know that Polly Sampson’s words from “A Theatre for Dreamers” come alive as you witness the sweeping panorama of Hydra’s amphitheatre like setting and you immediately understand why the island serves as the backdrop for dreamers and creatives.

"A Theatre for Dreamers" by Polly Sampson is a spellbinding novel set in the 1960s on the enchanting Greek island of Hydra. Sampson's evocative prose brings the island and its vibrant culture to life, captivating readers with vivid descriptions that immerse them in the essence of Hydra. The story follows the journey of Erica, a young woman escaping a troubled past and seeking solace on the sun-drenched shores of Hydra. Through Erica's eyes, we witness the bohemian paradise that the island becomes, drawing in a community of artists, musicians, and poets, each with their own dreams and demons.

If summer was suddenly like a novel, it would be like this one. Immaculate.

Andrew O'Hagan

In the book’s narrative, Hydra, with its picturesque landscapes and architectural marvels, takes centre stage. Sampson's exquisite portrayal of the island's beauty shines through as she describes the "symmetry of stone walls and mansions" that form a perfect horseshoe around the water. The white houses rising like tiers in an amphitheatre evoke a sense of theatricality, casting a spell on all who witness this stunning spectacle. Through Sampson's words, readers can almost feel the warm Mediterranean sun on their skin and hear the gentle lapping of the sea against Hydra's shores.

Unveiling the Splendour of Hydra

Sampson's prose is lyrical and evocative, painting vivid images that transport readers to Hydra's cobblestone streets, sun-soaked beaches, and bustling tavernas, capturing the essence of the island's beauty and the allure that attracts dreamers from far and wide. From the vibrant colours of bougainvillea cascading down white-washed walls to the scent of wild herbs carried on the breeze, every aspect of Hydra comes alive.

Sampson's rich descriptions of Hydra's natural beauty are a sensory delight, inviting readers to explore secluded beaches where turquoise waters meet golden sand, rugged hillsides adorned with vibrant wildflowers, and hidden coves where solitude and serenity can be found. Hydra's captivating landscapes become a refuge for the characters, a source of solace and inspiration in their artistic pursuits.

Vibrant Local Hospitality

The novel "A Theatre for Dreamers", delves into the rhythms of island life, capturing the bustling port with its lively tavernas and cafes. Sampson's attention to detail transports readers to the heart of Hydra's vibrant community, where artists, musicians, and writers gather to seek inspiration. The reader is enveloped in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the island, as Sampson eloquently describes the flavours of traditional Greek cuisine and the joyous atmosphere that permeates the streets.

Within the pages of the book, the reader is introduced to the warmth and hospitality of Hydra's locals and the camaraderie and intricate relationships that shape the island's community. Through the interactions between the characters and the islanders, readers are transported to the heart of Hydra's social fabric, experiencing the joys, tensions, and deep connections that form in this creative haven.

Backdrop for the World's Most Epic Love Story

At the heart of "A Theatre for Dreamers" lies a cast of fascinating characters, both real and fictional. Sampson seamlessly blends historical figures such as Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist Leonard Cohen, his love and muse Marianne Ihlen and Australian writer and journalist Charmian Clift with her own fictional creations, intertwining their lives and loves. Through their interactions, we witness the complexities of relationships, the fragility of human connections, and the transformative power of art.

A coming of age story set among a group of artists and poets, including Leonard Cohen, on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960. She is so good a mentally indelible imagery.

Jojo Moyes, Guardian

“A Theatre for Dreamers" vividly captures the bohemian atmosphere that the island is renowned for, drawing in visionaries such as Leonard and Marianne whose love story on Hydra in the 1960s was nothing short of epic. Marianne served as Cohen's muse, igniting his creative spirit and inspiring some of his most profound work. Their bond went beyond the conventional notions of love, intertwining artistry, passion, and a deep connection.

Marianne's presence fuelled Cohen's song writing and poetry, shaping his artistic expression in remarkable ways. Their relationship became a symbol of the transformative power of love and the extraordinary influence that a muse can have on an artist's journey. Together, they crafted a narrative of love and artistic exploration that continues to captivate audiences and leave an indelible mark on the chronicles of creativity. The island continues to inspire artists to this day, offering a haven where creativity thrives.

Spellbinding...steeped in nostalgia. Samson's poetic prose is so evocative that, by the end, you find yourself googling those entrancing images of Hydra, 1960, just to wallow further in the poignancy of it all.

Vanity Fair

One of the novel's greatest strengths is its exploration of the creative process and the lengths artists go to in pursuit of their craft. Sampson delves deep into the minds and souls of her characters, revealing their insecurities, passions, and vulnerabilities. She deftly captures the turmoil and ecstasy of creation, allowing readers to experience the artistic journey alongside the characters.

"A Theatre for Dreamers" is a novel that resonates long after the final page is turned. It explores themes of love, loss, self-discovery, and the eternal quest for artistic fulfilment. Through Sampson's expert storytelling, we are reminded of the transformative power of art and the importance of following our dreams, even in the face of adversity.

Yearning For Your Own Greek Island Adventure: Discover the Magic of Hydra

"A Theatre for Dreamers" is a beautifully written ode to creativity and the human spirit. Polly Sampson's lyrical prose and her ability to transport readers to the enchanting world of Hydra make this novel a captivating read.

This radiant novel will transport you straight to Greece.


Whether you are a lover of historical fiction, a fan of art and literature, or simply seeking a mesmerising tale, this book will leave you yearning for your own Greek island adventure on Hydra.

Screen Shot 2023 06 02 at 2.09.22 pm

Read also We Remember Tina Turner: A Life Full of Music