Saturday, October 9, 2010

Natasha Solomons/MR. ROSENBLUM DREAMS IN ENGLISH

Jack Rosenblum and his wife, Sadie, are refugees from the Holocaust who end up in England, where Jack, very grateful to his new home, takes it upon himself to become the best English gentleman he can be. There are some hurdles Jack can't seem to jump no matter how hard he tries, though--for example, he cannot get himself admitted to a golf club, since there seem to be no English gold clubs that admit Jews. When the failures begin to get him down, Jack decides to solve his problem himself--by building his own golf course. He and Sadie relocate to Dorset, where he invests his entire carefully accrued fortune in a plot of land and in efforts to combat some fairly insurmountable difficulties--among them, his hostile country neighbors, the rich neighboring gentry who look down on him no matter what, the notoriously soggy English weather, and the famous fearsome Dorset woolly-pig.

At first I was skeptical about Mr. Rosenblum, what with having no personal interest in golf myself, but in the end I loved this book. (As it turns out, Jack knows nothing about golf, either, so I was in good company.) It's a very sweetly told story of a family in great flux, and is a very different take on the post-War era than I have ever seen before. Jack faces some pretty awful challenges--fiscal setbacks, racism, classism, ill health, nasty neighbors--but he is indomitable, and his story uplifting. Solomons's depiction of Dorset is rich and lush, and the novel takes much joy in Jack and Sadie's prosaic encounters, like Jack's getting drunk with the antagonistic bully neighbors and Sadie's teaming up with the village wives to create Coronation chicken. I recommend the book as a real heart-warmer, a literary novel that is somehow also feel-good.

2 comments:

Jane Steen said...

What an interesting premise. I live near an affluent area which has a very exclusive country club founded in the 1800s. When one wealthy resident was refused membership way back then because he was a Jew, he created his own club. So the story is not very far-fetched, although the English setting sounds like an added delight.

Olga Livshin said...

Dear author of this post.
I'd like to join the list of authors of this blog The Book Book and post my own review but I can't figure out how to do it. Could you help, please?
Thank you.
Olga Livshin