Nadine by John Steinberg – A story of a great love and an elusive beauty
A lyrical book that alternates between descriptions of a young woman with a remarkable beauty and talent, and the harsh realities of life in London. Nadine is a real young woman, but becomes almost a legend through the book. A dancer with memorable talents and looks, she links the worlds of wealthy Paris, the streets of London, and the West End. In the course of the book the narrative also travels to America, and it is a novel about the clash of cultures and the overturning of expectations. This beautifully written book acknowledges that money and power are sometimes insufficient, but as it states on the cover as a sort of subtitle “Sometimes the memory of Love is enough”. The characters, notably Nadine herself and Peter Greenberg, are well developed, and the minor characters each have their role to play even if it is only one scene, such as Peter’s father. There are some terrifically moving passages in this novel, which encapsulate the story of great emotions. Unpredictable and engaging, this is a novel which speaks of the tenacity of the human spirit, especially when dedicated to a loving memory. I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this dramatic and satisfying novel.
The novel opens with Peter Greenberg in London, 2012, as he realises that he is in financial difficulties in his business of a theatrical producer. A series of unfortunate events have chipped away at his shows and investments, and his wife seems oblivious to the true state of affairs. A name in a newspaper reminds him of a diary which set him an obligation which is still unfilled to Nadine, a beautiful dancer. The story reverts to London of 1974, when a young Greenberg was a young and successful producer who is transfixed by a dancer in a show put on by a rival. Arranging a meeting with her, their encounter promises to be the start of a brilliant career, and the world shattering beginning of a devotion on Greenberg’s part to a young woman who proves to be as elusive as she is beautiful and talented. When she disappears from his life, the story switches to Paris as Nadine returns to her wealthy if dysfunctional family, revealing some of the influences on her which have led her to this point.
This book is fascinating on the subject of life long mental health issues, which affect lives and change perspectives. Threads of hope, pain and disappointment stream throughout this book, as well as a kind of justice which can take decades to work through. There are times when it is a tough read, of poor relationships between parents and children and the resulting guilt that can bring. While a few of the characters have a lot of money, there are also those who live on the edge, and have to scrape a living. Nadine herself flits through the narrative, representing the pain of love and the survival of love in difficult circumstances. I found this a book which carried me along in a tragedy but also a memorable love, a story of a young woman who found what she needed while on the stage, but struggled with real life. I recommend this gentle and meaningful story.