Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Author: Mark Rubinstein
Publisher: Thunder Lake Press
Smooth-flowing and fluid as silk, The Lovers’ Tango: A Novel by Mark Rubinstein is a fast-paced read that one would dearly love to consume in a single sitting—the sensuality and suppleness of the text are ideally suited to the intimacy of the subject. In retrospect and through timely glimpses, the reader is invited to witness the attraction between the male lead, Bill Shaw, and his beguiling partner, in the dance of life that has now become one of death, in which Bill is ensnared as the most likely suspect.
Central to the core theme of the work is the image of the Argentinian tango, the nature of which is described in the Preface to the novel. The dramatic nature of the dance is a fitting symbol of the life and death struggle that occurs in the sick room, which is later painfully borne witness to in the courtroom. Elements of the dance have much in common with the unfolding drama of the novel. The fact that the tango was originally danced only by women foreshadows the close relationship between Bill Shaw and his lawyer, and longtime friend, Ben Abrams, who comes from a working-class background, as, too, does the dance. The thrust and parry of the courtroom brings to mind the head-snapping action that characterizes the South American dance. The exotic nature of the tango can be seen as being embodied in the sensuous Nora Reyes, with the riveting first encounter between the lovers, which is described early on in the novel, totally sweeping Bill off his feet.
The sensuality of the imagery (“Her skin appeared moist; I inhaled deeply, her essence filling my nostrils.”) draws the reader into the intensely lived moments between the lovers, but with the continuously present sense that they are living on borrowed time, as one is aware from the start that their love is doomed, with Nora ultimately succumbing to the depredations of MS (and perhaps to the willing hand of her ostensibly loving partner). Just as the romance of the tango liberated the poor from the squalor of the Buenos Aires slums, so, too, does the loving and erotic relationship between Bill and his wife lift them out of the mundane and banal to a transcendent state of ecstatic intimate union, albeit one that ultimately ends in her tragic demise.
The Lovers’ Tango: A Novel should intrigue a broad spectrum of readers across the genres of medical thriller, courtroom drama and romance. The characters are so well described and have such appeal that the novel should attract a wide range of adherents from young to old. Mark Rubinstein is a well-known author of both fiction and nonfiction, with an extensive background in medicine and psychotherapy, which enables him to give great depth to his writing. His work deserves to be prescribed for creative writing courses, as many a novice author could well benefit from acquiring his economy of style, coupled with his breadth of theme.