Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: When We Danced on Water

When We Danced On Water by Evan Fallenberg

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 256pp
ISBN-13: 9780062033321

(Received for review from TLC Tours)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Evan Fallenberg on the WEB: website, facebook

Excerpt from
When We Danced On Water
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

At eighty-five, Teo is ready to retire from the bombast and romance of life as one of the world's most influential choreographers. But when he meets Vivi, a fortyish waitress at a Tel Aviv cafe, the fires of his youth flare back to life - his passion for a woman's touch, his long-buried anguish at his wartime experiences, and his complex engagement with dance. Vivi's life will change, too, as the warmth of Teo's affection counterbalances her harrowing time as an Israeli soldier in an illicit relationship. For both, their investment in art, and indeed in life itself, will reawaken as the ghosts of their suppressed pasts - from Warsaw to Copenhagen, Berlin to Tel Aviv - cry out for forgiveness and healing.

With lustrous prose capturing the grit and fury of history and the breathtaking power of passion, When We Danced on Water is a compelling novel of intimacy and identity, art and ambition, and how love can truly transcend tragedy.


Author Evan Fallenberg tells an absorbing story about a Ballet choreographer and a waitress in his latest novel, When We Danced on Water. Readers will find that this novel is more than just a love story between two people, one in his twilight years and one half his age. It's a story of passion and ambition, and healing from the unseen wounds of the past. Readers will fall in love with Fallenberg's haunting descriptions of wartime and the suffering that took place. This is a must read for readers who enjoy WWII drama's.

Teo is eighty-five years old and still working as a ballet choreographer, but he is considering retiring. The work just doesn't seem to move him they way it did when he was young. As Teo begins to form a relationship with a waitress named Vivi in a cafe in Tel Aviv his passion starts to return in more ways than one. Both Teo and Vivi have had somewhat tragic pasts. Vivi was a former Israeli soldier who had an affair with a Christian man that ended in heartbreak. Teo spent time in Nazi Germany during WWII and will never forget what he suffered at the hands of a torturer. As their relationship grows, they begin to trust and confide in each other and are able to bring out the passions they felt in their youth and forge a love that is full of forgiveness and healing.

Evan Fallenberg's novel is more than just a love story. I enjoyed the fact that the author used two people from different places in their lives to show how love can transcend time and space. Teo is in the twilight of his life, yet he is still very passionate about music, love and the ballet. Vivi is more than forty years younger, yet they share something uncommon, a bond forged from the pain of their past experiences. I thought Fallenberg did an amazing job of showing what they had in common and how it was possible for them to fall in love. This aspect of the book was well written and evocative. The emotions Teo and Vivi share, seep off the pages of the book.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book, was Teo's connection to the music. His passion is palpable as the reader reads about how he feels about music and what it does to him. It is rare for people in today's world to be able to have a job or a career that evokes within them real and deep passion. It is truly a gift when a person is able to experience this kind of love for something they are doing. Fallenberg was able to share with the reader the intensity and the depth of Teo's love for music and I thought it was remarkable.

The historical aspects of the book were harrowing and emotional to read. What Teo experienced in Germany will be hard for some to read and even more difficult to process. WWII was certainly not a time for the faint of heart and this is shown through the torture that Teo was forced to suffer. I thought the author did a great job of showing what that time in history was like and how it affected those who were a part of it. This is a story that is full of emotion and the reader cannot help but feel strong emotions as they read. If a writer can make you feel something as you read, they have accomplished something great!

I recommend this one to readers who are looking for a great love story and for those who enjoy reading books that are related to WWII. This is a very emotional book and does go into detail on some of the torture Teo experienced, so keep that in mind as you read this one. It is a short book at just over 250 pages and can be read quickly, but it is a book that you won't soon forget!

When We Danced on Water is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Evan Fallenberg is the author of
Light Fell, winner of the American Library Association's Barbara Gittings Stonewall Book Award for Literature and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. His translation of Meir Shalev's A Pigeon and a Boy won the Jewish Book Council Award for Fiction and was short-listed for the PEN Translation Prize. He lives and teaches in Tel Aviv.


Anna said...

So glad to see you rated this one so highly since I'll be reading it for the TLC tour soon. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

trish said...

" show how love can transcend time and space." Such a lovely phrase! There's so many terrible things that happen in the world that it's nice to see love continue on again and again and again.

Thanks for being on the tour!