Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Dream A Little Dream Mr. Rosenblum
Everyone has their favorite place to read about. The place you secretly wish to live or at least vacation several times a year. As much as I am drawn to stories set in Asia thanks to early exposure to master storyteller James Clavell, novels set in England are still my pets. Thank you Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, George Eliott, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor. England is one of those key words like: historical, colonial and Hilary Mantel that will make me interested before I even pick up a book. Therefore Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons is a natural for me, right? Yeah, well like the kids say these days, "Not so much".
Mr Jack Rosenblum brings his family from Germany to England just as WWII is starting. Jack is ready to follow the pamphlet they have been given “Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for Every Refugee” on living English, to the letter. The main advice seems to be fit in and keep quiet. Jack knows that England will be safe, welcoming and persecution free to his Jewish family. His wife Sadie is not so sure. Over the years in fairy tale style Jack builds up a wildly successful carpet business but as you can guess because you see it coming a mile off every time Jack isn't accepted by the towns folk. Can't we all just get along? It becomes Jack's mission in life, the thing that will prove his place in this new homeland, to get membership at a golf club. Finally he has to build his own and, wait for it, if you build it they will come.
Oh well. I wanted to like Mr Rosenblum. I am certainly the target audience for this novel but for me it missed the mark. There are some nice post war details and the characters can be ingratiating but the pace is far too slow and the writing too inconsistent to support the slim, already well trodden plot. The author's desire here is lighthearted poignancy but it all ends up being soapy and endless.
P.S. I do like Mr. Rosenblum's cover very much. It perfectly acknowledges the period in design and palette.