Leonard, Marianne, and Me: Magical Summers on Hydra

Backbeat: Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2021. 264p. ISBN 9781493059768. $27.95. MEMOIR
In the past few years, there have been multiple new works devoted to Leonard Cohen and his time on the Greek island Hydra (including Polly Samson’s 2021 novel A Theater for Dreamers, and the 2019 documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love), so this new memoir by Scott enters a crowded field. Seemingly everyone who knew Cohen in the 1960s has shared their version of the Cohen and Marianne Ihlen love story, but Scott’s memoir is about her own relationship with Ihlen, whom she met in 1973, when she was 27 and on her first visit to Hydra. Scott began an affair with Ihlen soon after their meeting. Over the next few years, Scott’s experiences with the artists and authors of Hydra expanded her horizons both emotionally and sexually. Scott’s personal journey is the focus here, which sets this work apart from the scores of others on the Cohen and Ihlen mythos. Unfortunately, Scott’s writing jumps somewhat randomly between her time on Hydra and other periods of her life. The narrative as a whole is too casual and conversational, making it very accessible yet quite pedestrian.
VERDICT Despite Scott’s engaging story of a romantic and heady time, this one is best left for Cohen completists.
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