THE SHADOW MASTER by Elaine Feinstein


Email this review


A Waugh-like flurry of British busy-ness gets things rolling here--a London astrologer who smuggles cocaine; her sister, a Russian emigr‚ living in Istanbul; a small Turkish rebellion; boobish John and Jane Bulls on holiday--but then poet-novelist Feinstein settles down to business. In Istanbul, it seems, has arisen a fortyish Jew named Vee, directly descended from Sabbatai Zevi, the 17th-century Jewish Messianic figure who recanted to Islam in Istanbul. Vee has slowly over the years been receiving the call to take up his ancestor's work; and, sure enough, the shadow of God, reflected mostly in the terror of those who deny Him--""my enemy's enemy""--begins moving across Europe, causing civil disturbance. One of the effect s of these disturbances is something that's happened before in Messianic movements; in the loosing of evil and chaos which must be expunged before He can arrive, Jews, who are blamed for all the uproar, tend to get it in the neck. Feinstein deftly weaves all this together with a consideration of Soviet Jewry. But she seems to feel that these ""heavy"" themes have to be made palatable, like sticking a pill inside a ball of bread, and this she achieves with a lot of shuttling about, Russians vs. the CIA, even a low-level nuclear blast at the end. The outcome: England, stolid old island, muddles through, while Vee gives it all up rather than bring the world to an end. Intelligent work, but spread too thin.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster