Night Crossing: Mary Martin
Within the soul of Alexander Wainwright lives a passion, a light so strong that is guides his hands and movements as he draws his paintbrush across the open canvas to create images that will come alive. Rage, frustration, memories of the past and a special light that emanates from every picture or drawing is more than just his trademark, it’s Alexander. Visions come into play and what he sees often guides his mood, his work and his passion as the sight of something special, unique and rare comes into focus as he tosses the pallet of paints against his canvas and the end result is magical. A cosmic egg so vibrant, filled with colors and a light so strong shines for seconds and then disappears. What could this mean as he hides the picture of the farmer whom he dared to awaken in the middle of the night, tosses the red paint and what’s left looks like a bloody massacre. Night Crossing: Mary Martin: this is just the beginning.
The spaces between the pictures and the empty places remind Alex of something that would haunt him forever. Making his way back to his studio he reminds himself about Daphne, his muse and his feelings for her. Not sure where they really stand and if she belongs in his life, we understand the conflict that he’s facing and the decision is going to make. Contacting her for dinner he forgets the appointment leaving her wondering about his whereabouts and if he is okay. Alexander is remembering the vision of the cosmic egg and his desire to search for the painter and the man who it was inscribed to. Each painting that he creates expresses something within his soul and the light the shines from within the breadth and depth of each painting makes it come alive. But, there is much more as his old nemesis Renaldo decides to counteract and create a special scene meant to disturb the public, create controversy and bring Alexander to his side. A show within the square that would cause his arrest, embarrass those that witness it and make people think about life, how we depict and carry ourselves, how we show our emotions and if animals are more expressive when showing love and emotional feelings than the humans that stood still and watched the world go by too afraid to move or show any sign of life.
Alexander Wainwright is more than just a painter or photographer. His artistry far surpasses that of most and his ability to create pictures with varied dimensions with the use of light helps capture the face, the scene and the essence of the subject. Light is vital and paramount to his work so searching and seeking out this cosmic egg and seeing it once again on his journey to Paris makes it more imperative for him to find it and understand its significance. Too much light would make the artwork seem dull and vague where as too little light might create a more somber or darker quality. Alex begins to question his creativity and once again his paintings and work reflect his apprehensions. When creating a painting he must create the right atmosphere and conditions make the subject come alive. Alexander Wainwright with the imagination of author Mary Martin as his primary muse you might say creates visual images using unique light sources, perspective and an understanding of the subject that most artists do not convey. As the story evolves we learn more about his past work, his award, his conflict with Renaldo and their disagreement about conceptual art and his work in creating landscapes. Each piece he creates is so vividly describe it draws the reader and viewer in and allows each person to create their own private mental image of the work described by the author and created by the hand of our painter. James Wentworth is one of our narrators and introduces him to the cosmic egg as a painting from the estate of Jonathan Pryde. Convinced that he should take the train and the ferry to Paris Wainwright encounters two very special passengers. One a tarot card reader and another an older woman whose story and vision that she relates would haunt his own visions for quite some time.
As his art dealer shows him an unsigned painting of the same egg dedicated to a Parisian pianist, Dumont, Alexander begins to questions whether what he saw was real and whether it was an illusion. Taking the ferry “A Night Crossing,” from Portsmouth to Caen and to Paris in search of answers and this pianist and hopefully the artist he would encounter these two special women. Miss Trump is unique, lived a full life and enters Alex’s life creating many questions, leaving him with some unanswered and some magical or mysterious effects. But, the ferry ride becomes deadly and the sea unsettled and it turns over or capsizes. Decisions are made on the spot and a young mother and her daughter along with Miss Trump are in danger and his final decision would change the course of his journey. For some reason Alex feels a tie or draw towards Miss Trump and someone even relegated her ashes to him. But, who signed for permission to have her cremated and why did the funeral director act so shallow? But, with the mother and daughter safe, the ashes in his possession and no viable clues to anyone related to the late Miss Trump, Alex decides to take the ashes with him to Paris.
Alex receives a special note from the Tarot Card reader, Lia, and we begin to wonder just why she wrote he hopes he finds what he seeks? Why would he take the ashes? Why carry them so far? What happens when he meet Dumont in a café? Alex is relentless in his quest to find the pianist and when walking into a café he hears music that sets his soul on fire and approaches this man. Learning more about him and listening to his music he finds out that he is Henri Dumont and a conversation begins as he is invited to learn more and join him for dinner and learns that the painter, Anton is in St. Petersburg. Carrying Miss Trump’s ashes in a special urn with him, keeps her alive in his mind and the respect she deserves.
Leaving Caen and going to Paris Alex finds himself in a little café listening to a musician playing one of my favorite composer’s music: Chopin. The music not only comes alive but the musicians movements, the fierceness of each note being played and the precision makes listeners wonder where the metronome was and why performing as if creating or carrying out some preordained ritual. Henri Dumont is the person he’s looking for and finding him would set off a chain of events that would change his life as he relates the information about the painting, the inscription and the significance of the Cosmic Egg. Illusions, strange happenings, visions and Alexander is about to take on a journey that will either help him find where to place Miss Trump’s ashes or forever carry them with him forever. Henri Dumont lived his life in perfect time and would not vary his strokes, movements or music actions without heeding the sound of the metronome. Explaining his life, his father’s rigidity and the belittling and cruelty he withstood at his hand, the reader only learns what Henri is willing to share and when the truth behind what really happened and just who Miss Trump really is comes to light an entire other meaning comes through and Alex realizes what he needs to do and why.
Henri had poor self esteem, self worth and put himself down heeding to his father’s manner of dealing with his art and craft. Hiding the truth about his work, just how creative he really was and is, this shell of a man left life and the world and decided to live it in the shadow of another. As author Mary Martin brilliantly allows Henri to relate to readers his truth about a young girl named Millie who came to stay with him and his father, what his father did to her, the cruel way he treated her and blaming him for it all, we learn just how weak minded this man can be yet he did fight back, won and yet yielded once again to his father’s demands. Confrontation was not in him yet Henri knew his father to be cruel and he only wanted to protect Millie but instead was a lie. Deceit, deceptions, cruelties and a life wasted because one man wanted to control and use his son for his own purposes and reward and another too scared to fight back and stand up for himself. Throughout the novel Alexander reflects back on Daphne his feelings conflicted and what might have happened if events were different between Millie and Henri.
On a simple train ride things would come into perspective for Alex in a much different way as we hear the heated discussion between a mortician and a priest and learn another side of art and life. Chapter 20 is quite enlightening as one question is discussed in detailed by all: Is separation from your light more important than separation from other human beings? As Alexander argues that he has found the light other issues are brought out: is there an afterlife or is the person’s body just buried or burned? Understand more when you read the short story about a poor family that only wanted food and to enjoy some simple pleasures in life in the small town of Vercel. Illusions happen and Alexander experiences things that might be real or might not as his journey continues with a man who might be real or just his imagination learning the meaning of kindness, giving others something to make life better and finding the difference between love and evil. Can Alexander set aside all human feeling? As Daphne begins to experience her own light or darkness in her work, Alexander discovers a truth about Miss Trump and needs to relate it to Henri. Hear the music of the clarinet and see the urn being placed where it belongs and hear the voices of four men as they remember someone so special, so captivating that her life and memory will never fade.
What does he create? Can you see the colors, the different stages of the cosmic eggs and can you see how the empty spaces shaped forms in a thrilling “collaboration.” The rests between bars of music as Henri plays and reveals his true self and the empty spaces that the artist fills as both fill their own musical staff or palettes with their art and their love. Night Crossing a powerful novel that will open the reader’s eyes to the world of art both realistic and conceptual and understand the power of empty spaces, inspiration and you too may find your own light.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews