Posted on 20th September 2011

Posted by Sophie

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‘Reading in the Bath’ reading group on The Water Theatre

As part of the Fiction Uncovered 2011 promotion, we worked with The Reading Agency to reach reading groups across the UK. As part of the promotion eight selected reading groups were given one of the selected Fiction Uncovered titles to read and we’re delighted that they’ve been able to feed back their thoughts.

We’ll be posting up a selection of the reviews over the coming months.

This is a review of Lindsay Clarke’s The Water Theatre by Kate from the ‘Reading in the Bath’ reading group, Penzance Library, Cornwall.

“Books are like relationships…. some are for the moment, some are for a season, and just a few are for a lifetime.  For me, The Water Theatre falls into the last group.   It is a complex book that demands to be taken seriously and I found it deeply satisfying on many different levels.  Although the pace is occasionally a little turgid – perhaps a little too much space is given to the political debates? –  I found the richness of the characterisation and the unpredictability of the plot totally absorbing.  The story follows the journey of Martin, a disillusioned war reporter with a strong vein of poetry in his soul; it takes us between times and landscapes, moving from the snow-covered moors of West Yorkshire to the heat and political turmoil of Africa, and eventually to a remote part of the Umbrian countryside, where the final drama is literally played out in the Water Theatre.

Here, the plot enters a new dimension of myth and magic, as we meet the enigmatic Contessa, who takes on the role of a beautiful but arrogant ‘puppet master’. Although this was a fascinating part of the story, there were times when the mysticism of oracular sibyls and arcane rituals came perilously close to farce.  However, there was no doubting the claustrophobic intensity of Martin’s enforced journey of spiritual cleansing to The House of The Dead…

The tension is maintained right up to the final revelation of the ‘betrayal’  – ‘O what a tangled web we weave’…!  When I reached the final pages, I was left with the feeling that this was a book that I shall revisit at some time in the future and which is definitely worthy of being ‘uncovered’.”

Lindsay Clarke reads an extract from The Water Theatre.

Sarah Crown, judge for Fiction Uncovered 2011, on The Water Theatre.

Lindsay Clarke talks to The Interview Online about The Water Theatre here.




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