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Monday, June 23, 2014

Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman - Book Review

My Review:

In May, 1945, as World War II is slowly coming to an end in Europe, a train rolled into the station in Werfen, Austria and was seized by American authorities. It has already meandered across central Europe, been seized by the French, and stopped occasionally to unload containers onto trucks. The contents of the train that arrived at Werfen was a forty two-cars filled with belongings looted from Hungarian Jews, including jewelry, art, furniture, china, crystal, and cash.

A young Jewish officer, Jack Wiseman, is put in charge of guarding and taking inventory of the contents of the train, the owners of which had mostly perished in Auschwitz and other concentration camps throughout Germany. While in Austria, Jack meets Ilona, a Hungarian concentration camp survivor who has lost everything – her family, her home, her sense of self – and she is angry about it. However, a connection is felt between Jack and Ilona, a relationship that is made even more distressing by the fact that he is counting the personal belongings of people from her town, perhaps even her family. Would their relationship survive the secrets that Jack keeps about the Hungarian wealth?

Moving forward to today, a terminally-ill Jack leaves his granddaughter a necklace that was taken from the train, and she wants to return it to a member of the family it was taken from. Natalie’s attempt to do this highlights the problems in finding out what belonged to who—a major reason the U.S. forces had for not returning the riches to the families of their original owners. Were any of these people still alive and if they were, where were they?  It’s up to Natalie to undo her grandfather’s mistake, and perhaps find a way to renew her own life at the same time.

And then, there is the story of the two women who portraits are in the necklace that Jack took from the train’s possessions – what was their connection to the gold train and the fates of the Jewish population of Hungary?

“Love and Treasure,” by Ayelet Waldman, is a beautifully written story of the after-math of World War II and how among the rubble and debris a spark of love can be ignited. Waldman’s characters are so realistic and personable, and the center of the story, the Hungarian Gold Train, is fascinating. Readers will be pulled into this novel which is filled with tragedy, love, humor in surprising places, and a great deal of history. As far as being one of the plethora of novels themed during World War II, “Love and Treasure” is a jewel among the many.

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About Ayelet Waldman

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.

Connect with Ayelet

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
Monday, June 16th:  Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, June 18th:  My Shelf Confessions
Thursday, June 19th:  Reading Reality
Monday, June 23rd:  Historical Tapestry – “Why I Love…” guest post
Monday, June 23rd:  Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
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

My thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour and to Knopf Publishing for supplying the review copy of the book.
I was not compensated for my opinion.

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Mystica said...

This sounds a really good one.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

This is exactly the kind of book I love most! I can't wait to read it.

Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.