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.
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Fallenberg's (Light Fell) precise prose moves fluidly between the delicate and the bold, much like the aging dancer whose story he tells with such elegance. At 84, Teo Levin commands the dancers performing his choreography in the Tel Aviv Ballet with an authority and vigor that belies his age. He looks forward to his daily arguments about devotion and passion with 42-year-old artist Vivi, the waitress at a cafe he frequents. Vivi, aimless in the years since she fled preunified Berlin, finds her focus with Teo, at last. In turn, she forces him to share the secrets he's locked away about a shocking six-year period he endured as a young man in Nazi Germany. Fallenberg gives voice to the miasma of grief that overwhelms Teo and Vivi and achieves resonance in his exploration of music as a visual and physical experience. The author also manages to spin mundane discussions of passion and obsession into a rich narrative, skirting sentimentality. His spare style sneaks up on the reader, enhancing the emotionality inherent in his subject. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.