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The Water Theatre

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  99 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Beautifully descriptive and thrillingly captivating, this novel, by Whitbread Prize-winning author Lindsay Clarke, is the story of duty and desire, and of the man who is torn by and trapped between them.

Haunted by memories and visions of both his professional past and a love gone awry, war reporter Martin Crowther arrives in the small village Fontalba, in Italy's Umbrian
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ebook, 450 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by NYRB LIT (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Deborah Swift
Aug 28, 2011 Deborah Swift rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally absorbing, real literature.

The Water Theatre is difficult to define, but succeeds superbly as a work of fiction precisely because it operates on so many levels. As pure story, the characters are engaging and the plot (which I won't spoil) gripping. But this is also a serious work, with big ideas and depth.

On the one hand it is a story of one man's transition from naive teenager to man-of-the-world, and through that into some sort of acceptance and maturity. His family and the surrogate f
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Gail Gray
Mar 11, 2012 Gail Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jungian
As I shuffle the books I've read which have underlying Jungian themes or Carl Jung as an actual character, I have to wonder where to start. Because or despite the fact that many of Jung's concepts and techniques are now a cohesive structured method for psychotherapy, they are also as highly diverse as he was, during the stages of his life both on an outward and inward scale.

A number of the novels which feature Jung in the character line-up feature him at the pivotal stage when he'd broken or wa
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Esme Ellis
Jul 07, 2012 Esme Ellis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I direct you back to Kevan Manwaring's review. I can't say better than that.

I worked with Lindsay Clark for over a year in one of his writer's groups. I had previously read The Chymical Wedding and rated it highly, feeling at the time that Lindsay would be the author above all I would most like to meet. When the invitation to join his group dropped into my lap, it seemed a touch of synchronicity reaching towards the miraculous. My own work developed strongly during the time I knew him; his insi
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Jim
Apr 01, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War-reporter Martin Crowther arrives in Umbria, still raw from a recent assignment in Africa, on a mission to track down two estranged friends from a lifetime ago on behalf of their father who is now close to death. They are not keen to see him and are protected by close friends. Martin is nothing if not dutiful but even after he has passed on his message he finds he has unfinished business of his own with both of them, with his long-dead father and with himself.

At its core The Water Theatre is
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Dorothy
Sep 13, 2014 Dorothy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I debated about what star rating to give this book, because it's undeniably well written - it's one of those books where I kept getting distracted by a well-chosen verb or beautifully crafted sentence. But I didn't finish it, in fact I didn't even get half way.

The opening chapters set our hero a goal of reuniting two children with their ailing father. He heads to Umbria where the writer does perhaps too good a job of immersing us in the dreamy, languid atmosphere of the area - to the point wher
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BaryRosa
Oct 05, 2010 BaryRosa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Water Theatre" was the first Lindsay Clarke book I've read and I was delighted at his style of writing. You can't help feally tht your reading literature with Clarke rather than just a novel. So I was delighted when he agreed to an interview for The Interview Online.
http://www.theinterviewonline.co.uk/l...

He was utterly charming and when pressed about the lovely mysticism in his writing (something which he handles very deftly) he gave a very convincing argument saying that we spend too much
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Sue Davis
Not really "literary fiction" in my opinion, but rather a pretentious way of presenting a mildly interesting story about family, politics, and betrayal. The end suggests an alternative to revolution and post colonial civil war: change through individual imagination and creativity.
Holly
Aug 13, 2016 Holly rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
I wanted to like this more. Back in 1990 I read The Chymical Wedding and loved it, but in those days I was all giddy about goddesses and paganism and syncretism and such . . . The Water Theatre begins well and I was basically interested for the duration, but it seemed as if Clarke eventually had to revert to great swaths of desultory summary to keep the book under 500 pages. He has rigged an elaborate, nearly unwriteable backstory to influence his characters, but often has to just has to gloss o ...more
Jon
May 01, 2015 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superbly written novel which kept me gripped to the end. Similar to Chymical Wedding the story is basically a love story but with undertones of mystery, magic realism, and ancient myth. Think John Fowles' The Magus, and The Wicker Man, with a terrifyingly intense and claustophobic climax that reminded me of Sebastian Faulks' Bird Song.
Veronique
Aug 28, 2016 Veronique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the first book by Lindsay Clarke I read, and I found it to be a very great read. Extremely well written to start with (I've re-read passages more than once to savour the exquisite turn of phrases), and the rich plot unfolds in remarkable ways. I'm a huge fan. I truly enjoyed this novel and would in fact like to read it again at once from beginning to end.
Kerry
Mar 13, 2016 Kerry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A promising start but 100 pages in I found I was just reading words and had no interest in this tedious story or the boring characters. Certainly not a page turner for me
Sarah
Jan 16, 2013 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's taken me 2.5 months to get a third of the way through this book. It's so painfully slow and boring that I keep picking up anything else that crosses my path. I hated the back and forth flashbacks that went on for indeterminate amounts of time. The book is overbearing, stuffy, and meanders on with no point.

Everyone else seems to like it though, so maybe I've missed something. But it shouldn't take more than a third of the book to get into it. As is, I give up. Back on the shelf.
Deb
Sep 26, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Beautifully crafted with mystical undertones, The Water Theatre explores fundamentally human themes of love/loss, loyalty/betrayal, reconciliation/redemption. Lindsay Clarke is an admirer of Jungian philosophy and these concepts, reflected in his writing, make a captivating tale. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.
Susan
Oct 27, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written book that makes you look deep within yourself and the values you live by. The story presented this in a way that simply made each page a pleasure to read and turn to the next.

NYT literary list a great source of new journeys in reading!
Stephen
Jun 11, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Very enjoyable read. I always come to lyndsay clarkes books armed with a personal interest in the work of Carl Jung which has been such an influence on his writing. Must say its not my favourite of his books but well worth the read.
Georgina
Jan 02, 2011 Georgina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Least favourite Lindsay Clarke sad to say. After waiting eagerly for a non Arthurian novel from an author I greatly admire, this did not engage me and I found the metaphysics somewhat clunkily depicted this time
Christopher
Oct 02, 2013 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. There were times when I thought I was reading about things in my own life, put more accurately than I could have described them myself. Uncanny. You can feel the craft in each sentence.
Robin
Jul 14, 2011 Robin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-this
I love The Chymical Wedding... I found this in a Waterstones in Stratford-on-Avon... I am rather excited about and so hoping I won't be disappointed...
Tracy
Jan 09, 2012 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A wishy washy love story.

Read my full review at OurBookClub
Cilla
Jun 30, 2011 Cilla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written and engaging story.
Tfalcone
Jan 24, 2013 Tfalcone rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my thing, dragged, hated the characters.
Isabel
Dec 18, 2012 Isabel marked it as to-read
see saved NYRB review. available as e-book $9.99
Bennett
Sep 11, 2012 Bennett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
strongly recommended
Tami
Jan 01, 2013 Tami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amaaaaazing!!!!
Mia
Mia marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2016
Gail
Gail rated it liked it
Aug 04, 2016
Amy Long
Amy Long marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2016
Ken
Ken rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2016
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Lindsay Clarke is a British novelist. He was educated at Heath Grammar School in Halifax and at King's College Cambridge. He worked in education for many years, in Africa, America and the UK, before becoming a full-time writer. He currently lives in Somerset with his wife, Phoebe Clare, who is a ceramic artist. Clarke lectures in creative writing at Cardiff University, and teaches writing workshop ...more
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