Author: Ayelet Waldman
Genre: Historical fiction
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
"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."