Author: Monty Silverstone
ISBN: 13: 978-1493654519
With each page, Monty Silverstone's recent work of fiction, Forever Lasts till Dawn gains momentum as step by step we follow the lives of two young girls, Aleca Rabinovitch and Sarah Brodsky, who were born in the Ukraine and eventually make their way to England without their parents during the turn of the last century.
For the most part, the story unfolds through first-person accounts of each one as they come of age in a foreign country where they are compelled to fend for themselves through periods of joy as well as misfortunes.
The narrative begins in 1902 in the Village of Pushcha Vodytsia during the reign of Czar Nicolas II, ruler of Russia and the Ukraine. And if you were a peasant Jewish family, you not only had to contend with poverty but also the riots and pogroms that would claim the lives of many Jews. To supplement their parents meager incomes, Aleca and Sarah would sing and dance in the streets of their village where passers-by would toss coins into their family jewel box.
With their parents' urgings and with a heavy heart, the two young ladies escape from their country of birth to England without knowing a soul or having any knowledge of the English Language. Prior to their escape, Aleca is raped by Sergei, the son of her father's landlord, whom she had fallen in love with and whom she had trusted. It was this same Sergei who had warned the girls of the impeding brutality that was about to be administered upon Jewish people living in her village.
On settling in their adopted country, the girls meet a Russian tea shop owner who employs them in the kitchen of his restaurant. From here the narrative goes onto chart the fortunes and ill luck of the youngsters' experiences which unfold in impressionistic bits and pieces.
Using their dancing and singing talents to supplement their low incomes and pay for their lodgings, the girls continue to perform on the streets of London. Eventually, Sarah leaves her restaurant job and lands a job at the Russian Embassy while Aleca is given a job as a singer and dancer in a musical play, which, as it turns out, will be the beginning of her very successful career in show business. Aleca now takes on the stage name of Alison Hayward, “she was no longer Aleca, a waitress in a tea shop, but a performer-Alison, who would make her debut on one of London's finest stages.” Thrown into the plot are romantic relationships with unexpected tragic results that both women experience and are able to survive.
Silverstone is a good story-teller who has authored an ambitious and enjoyable work concerning survival and struggle while interweaving the sights and sounds of London during the early decade of the twentieth century. At times it seemed as if I was thumbing through pages of a nostalgic family album replete with vivid pictures of the two girls, their families and their many acquaintances.
In the end, I have to admit, this is not a novel to be gobbled up quickly, but rather to muse over, particularly if you are a descendant of a family who migrated to England, North America or elsewhere during the first decade of the twentieth century. This having been said, I nonetheless felt that one of the shortcomings of the novel which prevents it from reaching its true potential is that readers will come away partially caring about the principal characters. And I purposely use the term “partially” as I feel these feelings could have been greatly enhanced if the author had adhered to the rule of showing more and telling less. Nonetheless, Silverstone shows promise provided he gets good content editing.