Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Book Review: Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons
MR ROSENBLUM DREAMS IN ENGLISH
By Natasha Solomons
At the start of World War II, Jack and Sadie Rosenblum flee Berlin for London with their baby daughter, Elizabeth. Upon arrival, Jack receives a pamphlet from the German Jewish Aid Committee on how to act like a proper Englishman. He follows it to the letter—Saville Row suits, the BBC, trips to Covent Garden, a Jaguar—and it works like a charm. The Rosenblums settle into a prosperous new life.
Just one item on the list eludes him: “An Englishman must be a member of a golf course.” No golf course in England at the time will admit a Jew. But the list is now the guiding document in Jack’s life, and he must check off the final item. So he decides to build his own golf club in the Dorset countryside. For the second time, Sadie leaves a home she loves. And despite ancient customs, British snobbery, mythical beasts, and a shrinking bank account, they triumph once again.
I won a set of 8 of these books and 8 boxes of Shortbread for our bookclub thanks to Bermudia Onion's Blog and Amanda at Little, Brown and Company Publishers of Hachette Book Group.
I was intrigued by this book 1) because I love historical fiction. 2) because my heritage is both German and Welsh. 3) the story of someone trying so hard to be accepted.
I will have to admit, this book started off a little slow for me and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. But once I got past the half-way mark, I was completely interested and was looking forward to seeing how the story played out. Many times I wanted to strangle Mr Rosenblum and then a few pages later I was feeling sorry for him. He was so focused on becoming an Englishman that he lost sight of other important things in the process. This story plays out in our lives now and I see this with others trying so hard to prove themselves in their careers that they lose sight of their family in the process.
I just adored Mrs Rosenblum (Sadie) and would have loved to be with her in her kitchen baking all day long. She remained faithful to her husband's dream even if she wasn't happy about it and found her way in the new world. And in that process found her way back to her husband. And when he fell, surprisingly, she was the one to pick him back up. I admired her for that and for not carrying the bitterness that I am sure she felt.
This story is a lovely, quiet read, perfect for those cold winter evenings. You don't have to be a lover of golf to enjoy this story, but if you are, it would add another level of appreciation. I give this 3 out 5 stars.
Our book club discussed this book last night. Everybody pretty much felt the same way about it as I did. They said it took until Sadie had her incident at the pond before they got really into the story. Many of them were frustrated with Mr. Rosenblum but could understand his desire to feel included. We also were intrigued with the baking of the baumtorte. The relationship between Sadie and Jack was also a point of discussion and how it resembled many of today's relationships.
Thanks to Kathy, and to Amanda for sending us these books. Our library has been given our copies to lend out to other book clubs through our lending library. We were also treated with 8 boxes of shortbread to have during our book club discussion!