Sunday, November 28, 2010
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons
Jack and Sadie Rosenblum were lucky. They were able to flee Germany to England at the beginning of World War II with little else but their travel documents, their young daughter Elizabeth, and their Jewish traditions. Upon arrival in England, they were given a brochure on how to "act" English, a document that Jack takes to heart. As he settles into life in London he adds his own thoughts on what makes a true Englishman; and as he becomes a successful businessman he aims to accomplish the last item on his list, what he believes will make him accepted as an Englishman: become a member of a golf club.
Alas, Jack is not accepted for membership at any golf club, despite being nominated by other members and/or offering free product from his carpet manufacturing firm. Disappointed but not deterred, Jack takes a drive into the English countryside, sees a piece of land, and decides to purchase it and build his own golf course.
While Jack spends virtually all of his time on this project, the pinnacle of his English dream, his wife Sadie struggles with the memories of life in Germany and the fate of family members left behind. Though never overtly stated, we all know what happened and Sadie seems wracked with guilt for leaving and living.
I have to admit that I almost gave up on this novel once the Rosenblums moved to the country because I didn't think that the construction of golf course would be all that interesting. But really, that was only the genesis of Jack's quest to become an Englishman, and his and Sadie's experiences - with a quirky group of town residents - were funny, sad, and quite entertaining. For a storyline that I was not expecting, I enjoyed this novel very much.
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