Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
By Natasha Solomons
Little, Brown & Co., 2010. 357 p. Fiction

There are a strict set of rules to follow if one wishes to be a true English gentleman and this is the sole desire of Mr. Rosenblum’s heart. A three member family of German Jews, the Rosenblums are fortunate enough to arrive on English soil just before WWII breaks out. Given a set of rules to follow in order to blend in with the natives, Mr. Rosenblum proceeds with exactitude and throughout the ensuing years he continues to add to the original rules with dearly naïve, comical observations.

As the years pass Mr. Rosenblum has yet to achieve the last step rule in the gentleman's rule book - entry into a golf club. But due to his "unfortunate" heritage the clubs will never accept him, so taking a proactive approach, Rosenblum decides he will simply build his own. The building of the course is full of adventure as Mr. and Mrs. Rosenblum navigate the tricky business of village life. But, just as the course reaches fruition tragedy arrives in the form of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and the “gentleman” Mr. Rosenblum believed to be his friend ends up bestowing a most crushing betrayal.

Solomons delivers a solid read with her delightfully light-hearted, endearingly bittersweet, international bestseller. With a depth that offers complete satisfaction, Solomon manages to evoke the difficulties of the Jewish experience in England and explore what it truly means to be both friend and gentleman.


1 comment:

AJ said...

Jack Rosenblum, his wife Sadie, and their young daughter are German Jews and the only people in their family able to immigrate to England before World War II. Upon entering England, Jack is handed a pamphlet called the Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for Every Refugee which he uses to try and assimilate into English society. Sadie, however, is stuck in the past. She can’t let go of the people she has lost and is angry with her husband for letting go of the past and trying to become English.

After Jack becomes a successful business owner, he tries to join a golf club as the final act of becoming truly English, but no golf course will take a German Jew. Jack decides if he can’t join a club he will build his own golf course. He buys and old thatched roof cottage on a plot of land in Dorset, England and with no idea what he is doing, moves his wife to the country.

This is a poignant story of love, loss, and wanting to belong. While I think the pace of the story was a tad slow, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey Jack and Sadie take and the discoveries they make about themselves and the people around them. I also enjoyed the historical detail.