Polly Samson – Sommer der Träumer

Polly Samson – Sommer der Träumer

Nach dem Tod der Mutter flüchtet die junge Erica mit ihrem Bruder Bobby vor den Wutausbrüchen des Vaters aus London auf die griechische Insel Hydra. Dort hofft sie auch mehr über ihre Mutter zu erfahren, denn deren ehemals beste Freundin Charmian lebt dort und hatte sie eingeladen. Sie ist es auch, die das Mädchen in die Gemeinschaft von Schriftstellern, Malern und Musikern einführt, die dort ein unbeschwertes Leben der Bohemians führen und alle hoffen, dass sie von der Muse geküsst werden und das nächste große Meisterwerk verfassen.

Polly Samson ist mit dem Pink Floyd Sänger David Gilmour verheiratet und hat für die Band an unzähligen Liedtexten mitgearbeitet. In „Sommer der Träumer“ lässt sie eine Reihe von bekannten Künstlern erscheinen, unter anderem Leonard Cohen und seine norwegische Muse Marianne Ihlen. die Insel ist nicht nur klein, sondern 1960 auch noch ohne Strom, was das Leben reduziert und unweigerlich auch die zwischenmenschlichen Emotionen in den Fokus rückt.

Erica kommt als naive junge Frau zu der bunten Community, sie ist nicht nur unerfahren, sondern auch bezogen auf ihr Leben und ihre Zukunft planlos und zudem durch den Verlust der Mutter schwer getroffen. Sie beobachtet und bewundert das unbeschwerte Leben das voller Drogen und Sex, das aber auch von Gewalt geprägt ist und in dem insbesondere die Frauen weniger als eigenständige Künstlerinnen wahrgenommen werden, denn als willfährige Partnerinnen, die den Launen der leidenden Künstler ausgesetzt sind.

Leider hat mich der Roman nicht wirklich erreicht. Ich fand Ericas Verzweiflung in London nach dem Verlust der Mutter noch gut greifbar und berührend, auf der Insel jedoch dominieren andere Charaktere und sie wird zunehmend in die Rolle der Beobachterin gedrängt. Das Mysterium um ihre Mutter trägt auch nur bedingt zum Spannungsaufbau. An dem Titel reizte mich vor allem die Atmosphäre der kleinen Insel, auf der kreative Menschen sich ganz dem künstlerischen Schaffen widmen – leider sind es aber eher Beziehungsprobleme und Gewaltausbrüche, die die Tage prägen. Insgesamt durchaus leicht zu lesen, aber leider weit hinter den Erwartungen geblieben.

Lawrence Osborne – Beautiful Animals

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Lawrence Osborne – Beautiful Animals

Summertime, best to spend on the Greek island of Hydra where the Codringtons possess a villa up on the hill. Yet, while the art collector Jimmy and his second wife Phaine are relaxed, Jimmy’s daughter Naomi seems to have fled London where she just lost her job under mysterious circumstances. First timers on the island are the American family Haldane who enjoy themselves among other compatriots. Their daughter Samantha, slightly younger than Naomi, is soon impressed by the English young woman who not only knows every corner of the island, but who is also self-confident and slightly intimidating. One day, they meet a young man, obviously one of the refugees from the Middle East. Sam would prefer to retreat and not to make contact whereas Naomi’s interest is aroused. For days, they meet him repeatedly until Naomi, out of ennui, draws up a plan of how to support the poor refugee: her family is super-rich, so getting rid of a couple of things in their house does not harm anybody. With the help of the housekeeper, the Arab is to break in and rob the Codringtons. Yet, the scheme does not work out as planned and the girls suddenly have to think of what to do with two bodies.

Lawrence Osborne’s novel starts like the perfect summer read. He depicts the atmosphere of the island in a colourful and authentic way. How the people move around, how relaxed everybody seems to be, but also the way in which the local people slightly stay away from the holidaymakers. The girls spend their days in the water, enjoying the sun – it’s almost too perfect. With the appearance of the refugee, the tone changes and we get to see another side of Naomi. This is where the novel starts to become really interesting.

It is especially this character that is fascinating to observe. She can be the loving daughter – she plays this role perfectly for her father who is aware of it, but on vacation he can ignore negative thoughts and he can still see his wife in the girl. Her stepmother Phaine is less easy to impress, but here, Naomi chooses the open confrontation. Towards the islanders, she is rather cold-shouldered and arrogant. She makes use of the people just as her needs demand it, she openly exploits the housekeeper and forces her to become an accomplice. In contrast, Sam has an innocent air, she is a bit naive and quickly impressed. Thus, she easily becomes Naomi’s victim and is blackmailed by her. Only when it is too late, Sam learns that people on the island consider Naomi possessed, even demonized. Naomi herself knows exactly what she is doing and why she treats people in the way she does:

“It was just an attraction. It was a matter of gravity. It was her influence over them that was attractive too, their reluctant malleability. She couldn’t understand why people were like that.“

She makes use of them simply because she can. When the situation gets out of hand, she keeps calm and manages everything. There is no regret, not even a tear – considering the fact that she has lost her father, she seems to be really cold-blooded here. As a gifted liar, she does not mean to much effort for her to set up a story. Just like the mythological Hydra, Naomi is some kind of poisonous serpent and no loss is a real defeat. Sam, on the contrary, will be haunted her whole life.

The story around Naomi is really enthralling and her behaviour and manipulation repellent at the same time. When the focus shifted away from her to the refugee fleeing from Hydra, it therefore became a bit uninteresting for me. Even though this part is important and definitely full of suspense, it was more centred around the action and less around the character.

It is often said that the initial sentence of a novel is most decisive. Here, however, in my opinion, it’s the opposite. Lawrence Osborne find a remarkable closing of the novel which concentrates much of the story in just three sentences:

“Life was full of such people. One didn’t know anything about them, even though they occupied a position of utmost importance in one’s life for a time. They were like shooting starts, flaring up for a brilliant moment, lighting up the sky even for a few lingering seconds, then disappearing forever.“