Thursday, 21 December 2017

"Love & Treasure" by Ayelet Waldman

Title: Love and Treasure
Author: Ayelet Waldman
Genre: Historical fiction
Overall: 6/10

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

Jo's review:
Three stories taking place at three different times and having three factors in common - the shadow of war, independent women, and a peacock necklace. I was drawn to this book because I find the legend of Nazi gold train very intriguing and curious. It also embraces the topic of women's suffrage, Holocaust, and fate of Hungarian Jews. The first story took place in Salzburg in 1946, it was extremely slow and boringly detailed, characters with very plain personalities. The second story got a little bit more captivating, a mystery of the missing painting and two people of today's world falling in love after very unsuccessful past romantic experiences. And then there was the third, my favourite.  Thanks to this story I am glad I reached for this book. A young girl at the beginning of last century who wants to become a doctor but struggles with her parents' pressure to get married. There's also the matter of friendship that turns into affection and the matter of women's liberation. It's a unique story of the Holocaust, for sure. What I didn't like the most was the style of writing, the language at times was dull to the point where my thoughts started drifting away. 

Favourite quotes:
"When I saw that concentration camp I felt like apologizing to my dog for being a member of a human race."

"I found and still do find myself furious at the squandering of her gifts, not only for her sake, but for the myriad patients she will never cure, the discoveries she will never make, the lives she will never save. How many people will die, have died, because of the wasted talents of intelligent and gifted women, forced into domestic drudgery, corseted by paternal demands, strangled by denial of opportunity? Too many to count. Too many to contemplate. Too many."

"To be female is no picnic."


  1. I wish the writing style was more to your liking, but I am curious, like you the gold train legend always interests me. Great review Jo.

  2. it's too bad about the writing style but other than that the story looks interesting

  3. I love the middle quote. So true! Good review. I wasn't familiar with the gold train legend, though I certainly knew about the Nazis looting the homes and possessions of the Jews they sent to concentration camps. Sounds like an interesting book despite your disappointment with the writing style.

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