Below are synopses for two of my novels:
Somebody Else’s Life
Art historian Ralph Nugent is a life-long friend of artist Gianluca Bianchi, but even he doesn’t learn the artist’s deepest secret for many decades.
Over the course of a week, Vanity Fair journalist Janine Werzheimer interviews veteran British art scholar Ralph Nugent, the authoritative biographer of the singular Italian artist Gianluca Bianchi. The journalist believes there is a terrible secret at the core of Bianchi’s life, and she wants Ralph to divulge it to her.
Ralph relates his early years in Skegness and outlines Luca’s formative years in the Tuscan hilltop town of Castagneto Carducci. At sixteen, Luca gains admission to the Livorno School of Art where he meets the ethereal Isabella Robertson. Luca is almost destroyed when Isabella is killed in a road accident.
In London, Ralph attends University College. After graduation, he begins to write about art and is invited to work in Paris, where he meets Luca. Their friendship forms swiftly and Ralph accepts the Italian’s offer to work in America on a mural for New York’s financial district.
The two men live in New York City in the early 1930s, until Luca declares that it is time to return to Paris. Ralph, settled with his lifelong companion Tom Burrows, and with a burgeoning academic reputation at Columbia University, decides to stay in America.
Meeting for the first time in years after the Second World War, the Italian confides in Ralph the startling catalyst behind his most celebrated work, a painting known to the world as the ‘Family Triptych’. Luca describes a visit back from Livorno when he and his father Alberto take a camping trip. Over dinner, on the banks of a stream, an inebriated Alberto tells his son the catastrophic truth about his origins.
Having become a world-famous artist, Gianluca Bianchi dies in 1976, but Ralph lives until the 1990s. Janine attends his funeral, days after her feature on Ralph and Luca appears, in which she has written of Bianchi’s secret, thus revealing to the world the complexities of those who live somebody else’s life.
Tales of Freedom
‘Tales of Freedom’, based on a film script I wrote while in graduate school at USC (for which I won a university-wide award), is an emotive narrative celebrating survival, resistance, and the wellsprings of storytelling.
In German occupied Prague of 1942, Rivka Langerová, storyteller, wife to Jacob, and mother to Motti and Hana, is determined to save her family. After senior SS Officer Alfred Wenzel murders her husband, Rivka and the children hide with the Kliment family in the countryside. When the Langers’ sanctuary is discovered, Jan Kliment rescues the children, but Rivka is left behind. Fleeing northwards, Rivka is picked up by a Jewish partisan unit. She falls in love with second-in-command Karel Steinberg, never forsaking her dream of finding her Hana and Motti.
Two years on, Rivka re-encounters Jan, and learns that her children safely reached the Italian coast on a ship bound for Palestine. With Jan and Karel, Rivka risks everything and travels back to Prague to avenge Jacob’s death. Despite the intense peril faced, she succeeds in killing Wenzel. Tragically, Jan also loses his life. At war’s end, Rivka and Karel travel across a broken Europe, and make it to the Holy Land. After months of searching, Rivka is at last reunited with her beloved children.