A chance encounter at a coffee bar in Tel Aviv rescues two lost souls from the abyss in Evan Fallenberg's (Light Fell) carefully crafted novel, When We Danced on Water. Teo is a hardened and domineering 85 year-old; an aged, influential choreographer whose life is riddled with sadness and sorrow. Vivi, a 40-something waitress with latent, "interdisciplinary" artistic talent, is completely stalled in her life and her work. The nature of art is what brings these lonely, disillusioned souls together, but it is also what will tear them apart. When their paths cross, a transformation is sparked in each of their lives - but not before they are forced to resurrect the past and face down long-repressed demons. When Vivi and Teo slowly start to form a relationship that seeps beyond the boundaries of artistic friendship, the reader is drawn and captivated by their stories from the past. Teo was a dancer with great promise, who forfeited love to pursue his career, only to have it stolen in wartime by a Nazi brute. While Vivi, an Israeli soldier, forsook her family and the traditions of her Jewish faith for a lover who would later betray her. The novel delves into themes surrounding the perils of passion, evil and regret; the transcendent power of art; and the ultimate healing power of love. The sensitivity that Fallenberg brings to the writing devoted to Teo's life as a dancer in the Danish Royal Ballet, while in the wings and on stage, is passionately evocative - as are the terrifying scenes of his captivity during the war. In the end, it is Teo's story that takes center stage and serves to ratchet up the dramatic tension--past and present--for both Vivi and Teo until the plot unravels into a surprising conclusion of forgiveness and rebirth.
When We Danced On Water by Evan Fallenberg
Harper Perennial, 978-0062033321, trade paperback, 272 pages
Publication Date: May 17, 2011
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Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on their website link HERE