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Love and Treasureby Ayelet Waldman
Synopses & Reviews
A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.
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.
"This lush, multigenerational tale by Waldman (Bad Mother) of loves lost and found begins at a portentous historical starting point: the so-called Hungarian Gold Train. Waldman traces the path of a single pendant taken from this notorious shipment of Nazi-confiscated treasures, which the U.S. seized at the end of WWII but largely failed to return to the original owners, many of them Hungarian Jews. The pendant's decoration, an enameled peacock, is a symbol of bad fortune, boding ill for the young U.S. Army lieutenant, Jack Wiseman, who takes it from the Gold Train in 1945. In the present, he passes the pendant on to his unlucky-in-love granddaughter, Natalie, imploring her to return it to its rightful owner. With that request, the narrative leaps back in time, showing Jack's doomed romance with Ilona, a Holocaust survivor, and the life-changing early-20th-century friendship between pioneering female medical student Nina and dwarf suffragette Gizella Weisz. It also focuses on present-day Syrian-Jewish art dealer Amitai Shasho's attempts to come to grips with his past. Inventively told from multiple perspectives, Waldman's latest is a seductive reflection on just how complicated the idea of 'home' isÂÂ — and why it is worth more than treasure. Agent: Mary Evans, Mary Evans Inc. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the best-selling author of Red Hook Road, Bad Mother, and Love and Other Inpossible Pursuits: a spellbinding new novel of hidden artworks, romantic love, and the legacy of theft, that has at its center the fascinating story of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.
In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, American soldiers discover a train filled with unspeakable riches: gold watches, fur coats, and wedding rings, along with picture frames and Shabbat candlesticks. Jack Wiseman is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure-a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a beautiful Hungarian woman who has lost everything.? Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack's granddaughter, Natalie Stein, searches for the portrait of a woman she has never met, a woman who may help her understand the guilt her grandfather took to his grave. A masterly story whose roster of brilliantly drawn characters is filled out with flirtatious art historians, a crooked psychiatrist, traveling circus performers, and desperate lovers, Love and Treasure is a fabulously entertaining, impeccably researched novel from a bright literary star.
About the Author
Ayelet Waldman is the author of the novels Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, as well as of the essay collection Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace and the Mommy-Track Mystery series. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and four children.
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