I was so completely captivated by the new book Love and Treasure by the wonderful author Ayelet Waldman. When I became completely engaged from the very beginning, and then mesmerized as we went back in time, I knew that I’d need to put off some things in order to succumb to my reading impulses and immerse myself in her wonderfully poetic, dynamic, and eloquent prose.
I love stories seeped in authentic happenings and events of the people and their lives during WWII, this one surrounding the Hungarian Gold Train. Now more than ever novels are emerging with raw and real emotions as so many share true and supposed happenings of people from the many countries who endured the war from many various sides of it. Ayelet’s book was one of the best I ever read in its ability to transport me wholly back in time, emotionally and visually. And of course, I was hooked by the gold peacock pendant (I adore peacocks) that Jack, the older gentleman dying of cancer at the start of the book, gives to his granddaughter Natalie, which begins her pursuit of the rightful owner.
As we flashback to when Jack was an American soldier in Hungary during the time of 1945 liberation, we are immediately drawn into the time period and feel connected to the characters. Her story telling, which evolves into three stories, is multi-layered and engrossing. Her writing style has a unique cadence that is compelling and flows delightfully across the pages as I turn them with haste, fully engaged.
Not only do we understand through her work the horrors that WWII caused for so many, the after effects, and the misunderstandings among cultures and countries, but we learn that all that can be transcended by the heart. We learn that human nature is the same no matter who we are or where we come from, most of the time, and that we all need to step into the shoes of anyone else prior to judgement. We learn about love and loss, redemption and retribution, sorrow and guilt, strength and beauty.
Then the later chapters, which transcend WWII and deliver us the origins of the main treasure the novel revolves around, gives us the story of a woman, much like many women in history, who have to seek medical help due to disobeying parents or husband. The thought of women being mentally ill due to having ambition, desire to work, or not wanting children is something I “enjoy” reading in fiction due to the fact it reminds me to keep working hard for women’s equality.
In interweaving three various time periods and stories, she does so in flawless and seemless manner, interlinking with great care and detail and delivering details and well-developed characters through each section.
In just the little I’ve written about Ayelet’s novel you can probably already determine that her book is full of amazing lessons that a reader will be thinking about long after reading the book. I’ll be thinking about this treasure of a book for a long time to come. Ayelet permeates my mind with her storytelling and creates for me a visual better than a movie, though it should be a movie…..like “Schindler’s List,” but with Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes.
She writes with abandon, letting her feelings and her words flow, without censor or wonderment of who she might or might not please in her relation of people and possible events or interactions. I applaud her for this. She is not necessarily biased to one or another, but just authentic. She breaks down barriers and masks with her writing in a way that I’ve not seen many authors do and I so FULLY admire Ayelet. If you are a writer, read her work and learn her art of literacy magic. If you are a reader, don’t hesitate to read any of her work, and if you do decide to read her, especially Love and Treasure, then clear your schedule completely and date this book.
I ecstatically place this book on my “best of all time” shelf and 5 stars doesn’t do it justice. I give it a sky full of stars. It’s a beautiful sparkling diamond in a vast universe of novels. Love and Treasure will not leave you the same.
Come back tomorrow for my AMAZING interview with Ayelet and a chance to win the book!
Love and Treasure, Synopsis~
A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.
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.
A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart—Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past.
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Praise for Love and Treasure~
“Love and Treasure is something of a treasure trove of a novel. Its beautifully integrated parts fit inside one another like the talismanic pendant/ locket at the heart of several love stories. Where the opening chapters evoke the nightmare of Europe in the aftermath of World War II with the hallucinatory vividness of Anselm Kiefer’s disturbing canvases, the concluding chapters, set decades before, in a more seemingly innocent time in the early 20th century, are a bittersweet evocation, in miniature, of thwarted personal destinies that yet yield to something like cultural triumph. Ayelet Waldman is not afraid to create characters for whom we feel an urgency of emotion, and she does not resolve what is unresolvable in this ambitious, absorbing and poignantly moving work of fiction.”
—Joyce Carol Oates
“One is quickly caught up in Love and Treasure with its shifting tones and voices—at times a document, a thriller, a love story, a search—telescoping time backwards and forwards to vividly depict a story found in the preludes and then the after-effects of the Holocaust. Waldman gives us remarkable characters in a time of complex and surprising politics.”
“Love and Treasure is like the treasure train it chases: fast-paced, bound by a fierce mission, full of bright secrets and racingly, relentlessly moving.”
“Complex and thoughtful, moving and carefully researched, this is a novel to love and treasure.”
“This lush, multigenerational tale… traces the path of a single pendant…. Inventively told from multiple perspectives, Waldman’s latest is a seductive reflection on just how complicated the idea of ‘home’ is–and why it is worth more than treasure.”
“A sensitive and heartbreaking portrayal of love, politics, and family secrets . . . Waldman’s appealing novel recalls the film The Red Violin in its following of this all-important object through various periods in history and through many owners. Fans of historical fiction will love the compelling characters and the leaps backward and forward in time.”
—Mariel Pachucki, Library Journal
Author Ayelet Waldman, Biography~
Waldman is the author of the newly released Love and Treasure (Knopf, January 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 made into a film 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, Korea and Italy.
Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/loveandtreasuretour
Tour Hashtag: #LoveandTreasureBlogTour
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.