Title: When We Danced on Water
Author: Evan Fallenberg
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: May 17, 2011
Paperback: 256 pages
Genre: Fiction & Literature
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 café, 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.
Exquisitely written and insightful prose, extraordinarily beautiful descriptions, When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg commands the readers attention from the very beginning when Teo Levin, soon to be 85 years old, a former principal ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher and now consultant at Tel Aviv Ballet meets 42-year-old Vivi, an artist working as a waitress in a coffee bar, or as Teo points out, a “dabbler” as she cannot commit to one art nor to one passion. Vivi is living in the moment, trying to forget the past, while Teo is trying to relive the past, to remember every beautiful moment. Both Vivi and Teo had their fates altered by men in Berlin, both shut down after the war, each affected in their own personal ways. Through Teo’s letters to his sister Margot and Vivi’s talks with her mother Leah, the reader gains more insight into each person’s respective past, their secrets, their desires, what haunts them and what drives them. The story alternates points of view and through the voices of Teo and Vivi, the reader gains a greater insight and depth into their lives, their experiences and how their meeting in a café will forever alter their lives. I personally found the ballet descriptions to be beautifully created and with no difficulty, I was transported by Fallenberg’s prose into the theatres, watching the dancers. After finishing this book I knew instinctively that I must read Fallenberg’s other works, for he has a way of capturing the very essence of his characters and making them appear quite real and making the reader feel as though everything being read has truly occurred. When We Danced on Water resonated within me and is a book that shall stay with me for a very long time. I would, without reservation, recommend When We Dance On Water to all readers and to book discussion groups.
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.
To learn more about author Evan Fallenberg please visit his website.
For more reviews of the book, please follow the book tour.
I received an arc of When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.