About Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Knopf (April 1, 2014)
In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.
A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart--Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past.
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An astonishing and surprising story of a special piece of jewelery and the lives it affected throughout it's long journey. After World War II, Lieutenant Jack Wiseman is charged to examine and organize the contents of the Hungarian Gold Train. Filled with the items that made up the lives of Hungary's Jewish population, Jack is left to sift through thousands of dishes, linens, watches, candlesticks and jewelery, hoping that it will find it's way back to the families or any living heirs of the people it once belonged to. Jack meets Ilona, recently released from a concentration camp and is intrigued by her strength and determination. As he attempts to find any of Ilona's belongings among the Gold Train, he comes across a unique peacock locket that originated from Ilona's home town of Nagyvarad. Years later, shortly before his death, Jack charges his granddaughter, Natalie to find an ancestor of the owner of his pilfered locket and return it to them.
I found this novel absolutely engaging, heartfelt and bittersweet. It was difficult for me to get my feelings written down for this one, since they were all over the place. Ayelet Waldman has created a band a characters that are real and with raw emotions and actions that made this story resonate within me. Though told from several different points of view, Jack's character is seen through several different points in his life and his quest to return the items from the Gold Train, no matter how feeble a venture it may seems, never waivers.
" 'You guard so conscientiously that treasure train. And for whom?' For the Jews of Hungary, Jack wished he could reply. But of course by now he feared that was no more than the vaguest and most unlikely of hopes."
Bravely, Love and Treasure not only deals with the thieving from the Gold Train and the poor treatment of those liberated from the concentration camps, but through another set of absorbing characters the women's suffrage movement in Budapest is explored, as well as common medical treatment for women's ailments at the time. Nina and Gizella were awe-inspiring; their story adds richness and even more mystery to the peacock necklace. The necklace as a character itself ties the stories of these distinct characters together and I thoroughly enjoyed the the tale it divulged as I learned it's story. I love learning about history through fiction, and Love and Treasure brought to light parts of the past that have long been swept under the rug.
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Ayelet Waldman is the author of the forthcoming Love and Treasure (Knopf, April 2014), Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was adapted into a film called “The Other Woman” starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on “All Things Considered” and “The California Report.” Her books are published throughout the world, in countries as disparate as England and Thailand, the Netherlands and China, Russia and Israel, South Korea and Italy.
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Ayelet Waldman’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, June 9th: Linus’s Blanket - “Out of 20″ Q&A
Tuesday, June 10th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, June 11th: 100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Monday, June 16th: Book-alicious Mama
Tuesday, June 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Wednesday, June 18th: My Shelf Confessions
Thursday, June 19th: Reading Reality
Monday, June 23rd: Historical Tapestry – “Why I Love…” guest post
Tuesday, June 24th: Lit and Life
Thursday, June 26th: Book Addict Katie
Monday, June 30th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, July 1st: Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Wednesday, July 2nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, July 7th: Fiction Addict
Tuesday, July 8th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, July 9th: Perks of Being a JAP
Thursday, July 10th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, July 14th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, July 15th: Walking With Nora