July 19, 2014
The Ukraine is in the globe's sites at the present - dissention, separatist lines, struggles within a country bruised by wars over the past century, the question of the bellicose ground activities reaching into the sky to strike an international catastrophe: author Monty Silverstone filters the Ukrainian history into his new novel FOREVER LASTS TILL DAWN and using this nidus, surfaces the meaning of family, the schisms wars and threats of war create in family dissemination, the bitter decisions that must be made, the courage to pursue dreams, the climb from rags to riches, and the course of change in world politics as played out on the stage he knows so well. This is theater and film actor Silverstone knows that thin line between fact and fiction and uses it wisely to paint this epic drama of the lives of two Ukrainian families. Much of the tension and insights are derived from Silverstone's own multifaceted life - the seeds of the story in all parts are pulsatile.
The novel opens in 1940 in London during the blitzkrieg where our curiosity is piqued by meeting characters we soon will realize are grandchildren - descendents of the cast of the novel about to open. 1902 - and we are in the Ukraine, precisely Pushcha Vodytsia, where two Jewish families, the Rabinovichs and the Brodskys, neighbors united by the closeness of the children strugglng to live in poverty. Aleca Rabinovich and Sarah Brodsky are inseparable, sing and dance for coins in the streets to help support their families in paying rent to the wealthy landlord, the Trotskys. Bonded by friendship these two girls provide the running development of the story - their first encounters with rape, the ominous pogroms that will assault their Jewish families, their escape to England where they take up residence, work in the kitchen of a Russian tea shop, always relying on their street dancing to supplement their meager income, the decision each girl makes as they mature: Aleca follows her dancing talent and Sarah pursues a life as a secretary and both work to reach the height of their endeavors. Each finds love, discovers the pleasures of intimacy, each loses their love by death, each becomes pregnant without husbands, and each survives the blows dealt to them by eventually becoming wealthy members of society by marriage and by inheritance of funds from surprise sources. Their lives separate temporarily over a shared love whose influence alters their outlook, and always in the background is the longing to know the destiny of their separate families who have disappeared into Siberian work camps, and Alison's brother Anatoly who escaped capture only to pursue the frantic life of a drifter. Four generations from two families - and the fascinating ties that bind through time.
The story is rich in sidebar stories that explore the rise of the theater in London, the beginning and development of the movie industry, the Great Depression and its effects felt worldwide, the fall of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and the rise of Lenin, the eventual rise of Hitler and the Nazi pogroms, the rise of the suffragettes and the women's movement (with Sarah deeply involved), the effect of WW II on the world and the two reassembled families, and the passage of the two daughters of Alison and Sarah - Maxine and Michelle - as they follow their mothers' successes as dancers and become famous, creating more children to follow the theater itch. But the overriding theme of profound friendship, both tested and secured, is what is genetically passed through the generations of the two Ukrainian women as they pursue love, dreams, and meaning in a world torn by tragedies.
Monty Silverstone is successful in recreating the tenor of the period from 1902 through 1940 with terse, tense, staccato writing, moving into a legato style when sharing the many intimate erotic love scenes this book provides. Some may find the many subplots and plethora of characters challenging to follow, but Monty Silverstone soon dispels that confusion by tightly and superbly tying all the threads together in one stunning epic novel that gives the reader not only a fine historical tale but also significant food for thought about the impact of the last century's crises possibly raising similar fears today. Read, enjoy and be informed. Grady Harp, July 14