The Water Theatre

By Lindsay Clarke

ISBN: 9781846881305

448 pages

RRP: £7.99

As war-reporter Martin Crowther arrives in Umbria, still raw from a recent assignment in Africa, and from a failing love affair back home, a storm hits and the sky opens. Things are powerfully on the move inside him too as he comes to the small village of Fontanalba, on a mission to track down two friends from a lifetime ago.

Adam and Marina are the estranged children of his mentor, Hal Brigshaw, who is nearing the end of a turbulent life and wants to summon them home. But there are good reasons for their self-imposed exile, and not all of them are understood, and not all are in the past. An air of secrecy also surrounds preparations for an event at Fontanalba in which Adam and Marina have an extraordinary role to play. As Martin waits, trapped between duty and desire, he is both intrigued and dismayed by his dealings with a close-knit community, who seem bent on protecting their own – and on shaking the ground of Martin’s life.

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  • It is a rare pleasure and surprise to read a new book whose prose is so rich and emotionally resonant … Lindsay Clarke has an enviable command of character, time and place. He is almost Lawrentian in his ability to depict both the power and beauty of landscape, and tender or tragically fraught emotional relationships … This is a significant and ambitious work by a master of his craft.

    The Independent

  • Lindsay Clarke weaves a stunning, compelling tale that tackles the biggest theme of all: the existence of evil, and how ordinary, fallible mortals come to terms with Man’s astonishing capacity for brutality and venality … The Water Theatre will linger long beyond the turning of the last page. It is difficult to remember a recent book that is at once so beautiful and yet so thought provoking.

    The Times

  • Bold, tenacious characters and vivid, distinct landscapes give The Water Theatre a strong hold on the imagination as Clarke skilfully draws out the betrayals searing his characters’ lives.

    The Financial Times

  • Clarke has a gift for believably melding the visible world and human life with larger spiritual and metaphysical forces.

    The Financial Times

  • Mr Clarke writes with subtlety and seriousness, and the narrative has a dreamlike, almost supernatural atmosphere. The Water Theatre deserves a bigger audience.

    The Wall Street Journal

  • Speaking of writers fulfilling their early promise, Lindsay Clarke’s complex, involving novel The Water Theatre is every bit as good as his stunning debut, The Chymical Wedding … This is a richly involving and rewarding work.

    Erica Wagner
    Best books of the year, The Times

Lindsay Clarke

Lindsay Clarke is the author of seven novels, including The Chymical Wedding, which won the Whitbread Award for Fiction in 1989. He has been Writer in Residence at the University of Wales, Cardiff, where he became a long-term Associate of the MA Creative Writing programme, and has lectured widely in England, abroad and tutored many courses for the Arvon Foundation. He lives in Somerset with his wife, who is a ceramic artist.

Read an interview with Lindsay Clarke here