The Hungarian Gold Train, loaded with Jewish treasure. A dazzling jeweled pendant in the form of a stylized peacock. And three men who find their carefully-wrought lives turned upside-down by three amazing and fierce women, each locked in a struggle against her own history and the history or our times...
Maine, 2012. An old man is dying with the weight of a plundered necklace on his conscience. As an US Army Captain in 1946 Salburg, guarding the 'Hungarian Gold Train' full of looted Jewish treasure, he fell in love with camp survivor and helped her escape to Israel. Now, as his granddaughter sets out to repatriate the necklace, secrets buried in the past are uncovered, stories of love and deceit linked to that beautiful, peacock-shaped pendant and to a priceless, long-lost painting. Spanning a century of European and Jewish history, from 1913 Budapest to contemporary Israel, and filled with a vivid supporting cast of art dealers, freedom fighters, psychoanalysts and suffragette dwarfs, Love and Treasure is a thrilling, moving and haunting novel, one that bears an ever elusive question at its core, nested like a photograph hidden in a locket: Where does the worth of a people and its treasure truly lie?
©2014 Ayelet Waldman (P)2014 Recorded Books
That's a hard question as there have been so many excellent "listens"....In this "WWI genre" I would rate it second only to "City of Women"....
The character of Jack. He was the kind hearted American G.I. but did not forget his Jewish heritage.
Believe it or not, the Freudian analyst in Part II....
My reaction came in Part II which I thought was going to end in a different way and then a twist in plot going back in time which I loved....That time period of 1919 was shockingly restrictive towards women as compared to today.
I await Ms. Waldman's next book!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
The facts: In 2005, the settlement of a notorious case of postwar liability took place in a federal court in Florida. Sixty years previously, the Hungarian Gold Train consisting of 40 box cars had arrived in Salzburg, Austria bearing property requisitioned by the Nazis from Hungary’s 800,000 Jewish citizens. Making its way to Germany the train is intercepted by the Americans. Some of its cargo was commandeered by the generals working on the Marshall plan, to furnish their headquarters. It would take a half a century for Hungarian survivors of the holocaust to settle a lawsuit that granted $21 million as compensation. The money was awarded to a number of Jewish social service agencies.
The story: The book is a multigenerational tale largely set in Salzburg in 1945 and in Budapest both in the present and in 1913. Crucial to the plot is an enameled pendant, intricately worked in a peacock design.
Jack Wiseman an American Jew and retired classic professor is dying of Cancer, his granddaughter Natalie, is spending time with him and listening to his reminiscences of World War II. He tells of falling in love with Ilana Jakob, a Hungarian refuge and survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau, while he was stationed in Salzburg immediately after the war. His memoires are shadowed by his guilt at the illegal removal of an item of jewelry, the only tangible trace of his lost lover. His granddaughter Natalie promises to return the pendant to the family.
The book is divided into three main sections, Jack’s story during the war, his granddaughter Natalie’s search for the peacock pendant’s owner and three the true story of the pendant's owners in 1913 Budapest. Waldman weaves a great story through history of lost holocaust treasure. The author sustains her multiple plot lines with confidence and descriptive panache, fashioning complex personalities caught up in a series of events. My only complaint is I would have like to know what happened to Ilana Jakob and her fellow travelers to Israel. Did they make it, what was their life like since 1946? The story is somewhat in the vein of the movie “The monuments men.” If you enjoy historical novels about World War II or stories of the Holocaust this is a book you will enjoy. Jonathan Davis and Paul Hecht narrated the book.
My guess is that the last part of the book was written first, and then as Ayelet Waldman got going, she created the first part. The beginning of the audiobook is interesting relating the story of the Hungarian gold train, something I did not know about since it was kept a secret until 1998. The fictional story in both the first and second parts of the book are well written and captured my interest throughout. The last section, imagining characters lives that were introduced in the beginning of the book is amateurist.
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