Mark: A Novel
Treehouse Press, 2021
175 pages, £12, $16, €15
Mark is a novel loosely based on the life of the painter Mark Gertler, interwoven with the story of an Israeli writer living in London, haunted by his experience of a brutal war in Lebanon and the death he witnessed there.
The story is told during the last months of Mark Gertler’s life as he recalls his relationship with the painter Dora Carrington, and his friendships with Ottoline Morrell, members of the Bloomsbury Group, and with Eddie Marsh, Winston Churchill’s private secretary.
The narrator, in his fascination with the deceased artist, travels to Sitges, Paris, Brighton, and to the sanatoria where Gertler spent many months as his body succumbed to the ravages of tuberculosis. Aided in his research by his lover, Gabriel, the narrator discovers the whereabouts of Gertler’s son in West London. As the story moves towards the devastating end of the artist’s life, the writer will eventually reveal what he witnessed during the war in Lebanon.
Mark is told through a series of sketches from an ex-soldier’s life and the life of one of the great British painters of the 20th Century. It is a story of the artist’s battle for recognition and financial independence and how those struggles impact the artist and the people around them.