Artist EBEN ADAMS has never been able to impress influential art dealer HENRY MATTHEWS with his work until he sketches a schoolgirl in Central Park named JENNIE. Eben is intrigued by her mystical quality and the way she chats about things that happened long before her time. When he sketches Jennie, the drawing conveys more emotion than anything else he has ever done, but before he can finish, Jennie vanishes. Eben searches for Jennie, and when he finds her, he notices a startling transformation: she has aged several years since their first meeting. Eben soon realizes that Jennie has long been dead and that she is a beautiful spirit who means more to him than life itself. Over the next several days, Eben paints Jennie's portrait, knowing that when he finishes, Jennie will disappear again. His foretelling comes true. Disheartened, Eben searches in vain for his timeless beloved and eventually finds comfort in the notion that true love has no boundaries between time and space. He, Jennie, and the world are one.
"So brilliant is Nathan's execution that one is entirely lost in the tender love story of two immortally designed for each other, one a spirit out of the past seeking to catch up with the present, the other a man rooted in the present and caught in an urgency to accept the gift of the past... 'Portrait of Jennie' will perhaps most vividly recall Balderston's 'Berkeley Square,' for, like that, it is a love story that transcends the boundaries of time. It is told with tenderness and with beauty. Its mood lingers in the heart and its planes challenge the mind."
-- Grace Frank, New York Times
About the Author:
Author of such revered books as PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, THE BISHOP’S WIFE, THE RIVER JOURNEY, and STONECLIFF, Robert Nathan was born in New York City in 1894 and was educated at private schools in the United States and Switzerland. While attending Harvard University where he was a classmate with E.E. Cummings, Nathan was an editor of the Harvard Monthly, in which his first stories and poems appeared. While at Cambridge, Nathan also found the time to become an accomplished cellist, a lightweight boxer, and Captain of the fencing team. After leaving college, Mr. Nathan devoted his time exclusively to writing until his passing in 1985. Early on, Nathan’s work strengthened his reputation with both the public and peers. F. Scott Fitzgerald once referred to Robert Nathan as his favorite writer. During this period, the legendary Louis B. Mayer contracted him to Hollywood to become a screenwriter. Nathan ultimately didn’t enjoy the experience, though the movie industry continually craved his work. Five of his novels have been made into films. The aforementioned “Portrait of Jennie” and “The Bishop’s Wife,” as well as “One More Spring,” “Wake Up and Dream” (from the novel “The Enchanted Voyage”) and “Color of Evening.” Robert Nathan was the author of over fifty volumes of novels, poetry, and plays, and from this body of distinguished work he acquired a reputation as a master of satiric fantasy unique in American Letters. In the twilight of his career he was known as “The Dean of Author’s,” since many prominent writers including Irving Stone and Irving Wallace sought out Nathan’s guidance. A member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters for fifty years, Mr. Nathan called both Cape Cod and California home. Happily, his last fifteen years were spent in the companionship of his wife, English born actress, Anna Lee.