“The main thread throughout the book is art, she immerses herself in it to escape any unpalatable reality. It’s about this woman who is emotionally repressed finally coming to terms with who she is.”

I am talking to businessman turned author John Steinberg, from Hampstead, about his new novel, Blue Skies Over Berlin.

The book is set during the 1950s and surrounds a young German woman who spends her teenage years in war-torn Berlin. She is a talented and aspiring landscape painter whose mother is unloving, father dies from war injuries and she remains seemly unaffected but the havoc being created all round her.

These circumstances and subsequent experiences of heartbreak lead her to sever all links with the past by changing her name and nationality as well as moving to London to work in art galleries.

Throughout the book she is forced to relive her past and uses her art is escape it.

She later meets an East End business man who persuades her to come sand head up his new gallery in Mayfair. For the first time she is completely out of her depth and several instances remind her of her past which she is forced to relive.

She eventually befriends a woman of a similar age and that friends enables her to make amends for closing her eyes to the things she should have felt more sensitive too, relating to the war and London with the holocaust being an undercurrent.

“I write about people’s journeys,” explains John, who worked as an accountant and then businessman before starting his own mergers and acquisitions business.

“This is my second novel. I started writing seriously in 2008. I became a playwright, I produced and co-wrote two plays which went on stage at the Fringe Theatre in Hampstead and then decided it was what I wanted to do. One was called In The Balance and the other was W for Banker.

“The dialogued, I hope, is quite strong in my books as I learnt to write through the theatre, but I wanted to find out if I could write on my own. I wrote a play about a gladiator who became a sage and I turned that into a novel. That was about a spiritual journey whereas Blue Skies over Berlin is a journey of conscience.”

John has already finished his next novel and hopes to have a fourth completed before the end of the year.

As part of the coming Jewish Book Week John will be holding an event in Kings Place, York Way, next Sunday.

Blues Skies Over Berlin is published by Silvertail Books. Details: steinbergstories.com

Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross, N1 9AG, Sunday, March 5, 8pm. Details: jewishbookweek.com