A WATERSTONES BOOK CLUB PICK: read the first chapter on the Waterstones blog. Click here.
‘an ambitious, perceptive novel’ Guardian
‘a wonderfully imaginative writer’ Washington Post
The Hungarian Gold Train, loaded with Jewish treasure.
A dazzling jewelled pendant in the form of a stylised 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 of the last hundred years.
‘A NOVEL TO LOVE AND TREASURE’
A fugitive train loaded with the plunder of a doomed people. A dazzling jewelled pendant in the form of a stylised peacock. And three men – an American infantry captain in World War II, an Israeli-born dealer in art stolen by the Nazis, and a pioneering psychiatrist in fin-de-siècle Budapest – who find their carefully-wrought lives turned upside-down by three fierce women, each locked in a struggle against her own history and the history of our times. And at the centre of Love and Treasure, nestled like a photograph hidden in a locket, a mystery: where does the worth of a people and its treasures truly lie? What is the value of a gift, when giver and recipient have been lost – of a love offering when the beloved is no more?
In an intricately constructed narrative that is by turns funny and tragic, thrilling and harrowing, with all the expertise and narrative drive that readers have come to expect from her work, Waldman traces the unlikely journey, from 1914 Budapest to post-war Salzburg to present-day New York, of the peacock pendant whose significance changes – token of friendship, love-offering, unlucky talisman – with the changes of fortune undergone by her characters as they find themselves caught up in the ebb and flow of modern European history.
Spanning continents and a hundred years of turbulent history, encompassing war and revolution, the history of art, feminism and psychoanalysis, depicting the range of human feeling from the darkness of a shattered Europe to the ordinary heartbreaks of a contemporary New York woman, Love and Treasure marks the full maturity of a remarkable writer.
‘Complex and thoughtful, moving and carefully researched, this is a novel to love and treasure.’ – Philippa Gregory
‘Love & Treasure is something of a treasure trove of a novel. 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, are a bittersweet evocation 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.’ – Michael Ondaatje
‘Love & Treasure is like the treasure train it chases: fast–paced, bound by a fierce mission, full of bright secrets and racingly, relentlessly moving.’ – Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)
‘In Ayelet Waldman’s thoughtful, expansive Love and Treasure, American soldiers occupying Austria after World War II discover an immense freight train full of personal effects pillaged from Hungarian Jews… Absorbing… The pendant’s crooked passage across the century serves as a connecting device, holding the book’s elegantly balanced parts together like the wire in a Calder mobile. In the end, Love and Treasure is less concerned with belongings than with belonging – with the Jewish people’s ongoing hunt for community and homeland, and what one character calls ‘a sense of loyalty and identity.’ Those things, once stolen, are much harder to get back.’ – Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
‘Waldman is a wonderfully imaginative writer . . . absorbing . . . As with the painting in Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue and the manuscript in Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book the link between these separate stories in Love and Treasure is a pendant decorated with the picture of a peacock. In Waldman’s exceedingly clever treatment, this piece of jewelry is not intrinsically valuable; it accrues value only as it passes from one unlikely hand to another, demonstrating the curious and tragic ways that history binds us together. . . a tense and romantic story that never seems polemical or overdetermined. . . a marvelous panorama of early 20th–century attitudes about women . . . Moving.’ – Ron Charles, Washington Post
‘What ethics govern the custodians of property that can never be returned? How do the personal and the political intertwine in the wake of historical tragedy? These questions permeate the novel… Charming… The failings of the characters imbues them with a fuller and more complex humanity… the book’s best moments explore subtle ambiguities… the human stories behind the looted objects flicker into life.’ – Nick Romeo, Boston Globe
‘In her 12th book, Love & Treasure, Ayelet Waldman ambitiously takes on the monumental atrocities of the Holocaust – and much more… the author does an excellent job of constructing a cohesive and engaging narrative… the three main female characters – Ilona, Natalie and Nina – are headstrong women brimming with passion, regrets and ideals. With her essays and Twitter presence, Waldman herself is no stranger to strong opinions, and her fictional trio of women embodies a similar tenor of strength and belief… In this novel, Waldman reaches thoughtfully into an epic sweep of complex issues related to identity, home, dislocation and feminism, and illuminates her ideas through the critical junctures of the journeys of both the pendant and the painting. In the end, as readers, we gain a deeper understanding of what it means to covet and what it means to love.’ – S. Kirk Walsh, San Francisco Gate
‘Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, Ayelet Waldman’s historically resonant new novel offers stories within stories, spanning a century of European wars and social movements, (mostly) ill–starred relationships, and the ambiguous aftermath of these upheavals… Something of a page–turner, Love and Treasure dares to throw readers off balance and keep them searching for resolution to dangling plot threads… In its epilogue, Love and Treasure gives us a taste of what we’ve been craving – not a final plot twist, but rather a sense of both the solidity and mutability of the novel’s primary symbol, the peacock pendant. The pendant evokes not simply “a remnant of regret” for doomed love, but a “complicated legacy of memory and forgetting.” Like the diary of Anne Frank, or the pile of shoes without owners in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it stands for nothing less than the loss of an entire world.’ – Chicago Tribune
‘If the riveting history around which Ayelet Waldman’s new novel is weaved doesn’t draw you in, the characters that infuse it certainly will. Vividly crafted and full of intriguing complexity, Waldam’s characters breathe life into a story of art, war, stolen treasures, forgotten crimes and star–crossed love… Skillfully crafted and told from multiple perspectives within a narrative that telescopes through time, Love and Treasure tells a captivating story about treasure lost and found and calls us to reevaluate what it is that we treasure most.’ – Bustle.com
‘Indeed the joy of this novel isn’t just in the all–encompassing story; it’s not just in the history that the world as a whole should not only know but also acknowledge. It’s not even just in the encyclopaedic coverage that weaves knowledge seamlessly into a flowing narration. The joy of this novel is that we get all of this in a single volume making it well worth a read.’– Bookbag.co.uk
‘A powerful love story… With changing voices and a story that spans 100 years, Love and Treasure gives us the loves of characters before and after the Holocaust, and shows how love can endure – despite the horror and complexity of conflict.’ – Irish Tatler
‘Absorbing… a compelling meditation on love, missed connections and the pull of history on the present… well–written and entertaining throughout.’ – USA Today
‘Ambitious… The eternal human struggle for self–determination and dignity pulses throughout.’ – People
‘Love and Treasure, the new novel by Ayelet Waldman, couldn’t be more timely… Waldman builds her narrative, which moves between three distinct stories and time periods, around one of the most notorious cases of property theft in WWII… It is a story ripe for retelling… Love and Treasure offers not just one romance, but two – one tragic, one comic… Drawing on what was clearly extensive research, Waldman brings to life the world of the Central European Jewish haute bourgeoisie, reveling in its textures, exposing its hypocrisies, and cheering on the incipient feminism that Nina represents… [A] fantasia on historical themes.’ – Tablet magazine
‘Classic perfection… heartwarming and inspiring… interesting and educational, informing the reader about little–known segments of history through the eyes of well–drawn, credible, and sympathetic characters. The narrative progresses in a quiet, steady suspense of human drama without any melodramatic action. One never knows what turning the page will bring. Highly recommended.’ – New York Journal of Books
‘Divorced, unemployed, and listless, Natalie Stein goes on a wild–goose chase to find the rightful heir of a WWII relic… This screams big–screen adaptation: Natalie Portman as Natalie Stein, perhaps?’ – Marie Claire
‘Waldman’s novel skips continents and generations, telling a multi–layered and well–constructed story.’ – Christian Science Monitor
‘Inspired by the true story of World War II’s Hungarian Gold Train, the tale set in present–day New York centers on a woman uncovering the truth about what her grandfather did as an American soldier in the war. . . [For] fans of The Goldfinch, treasure hunts and the work of Waldman’s husband, Michael Chabon.’ – The Hollywood Reporter
‘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.’ – Publishers Weekly
Ayelet Waldman is the author of Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace, both available through Two Roads.
Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays 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.
She and her husband, the novelist Michael Chabon, live in Berkeley, California, with their four children.
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ALSO BY AYELET WALDMAN
‘I want to be in the company of her frank intelligence forever.’ – Nigella Lawson
In our mothers’ day there were good mothers, indifferent mothers, and occasionally, great mothers. Today we have only Bad Mothers: If you work, you’re neglectful; if you stay home, you’re smothering. If you discipline, you’re buying them a spot on the shrink’s couch; if you let them run wild, they will be into drugs by seventh grade. Writing with remarkable candor, Ayelet Waldman says it’s time for women to get over it and get on with it in this unflinchingly honest memoir on modern motherhood.
‘A thoroughly gripping and elegantly written story about love, grief, friendship, and the unexpected ways in which disaster brings families together.’ – Khaled Hosseini
In the aftermath of a devastating wedding day, two families, the Tetherlys and the Copakens, find their lives unraveled by unthinkable loss. Over the course of the next four summers in Red Hook, Maine, they struggle to bridge differences of class and background to honor the memory of the couple. As Waldman explores the unique ways in which each character responds to the tragedy she creates a powerful family portrait and a beautiful reminder of the joys of life.