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.
Ayelet Waldman's new novel, Love and Treasure, places the Hungarian Gold Train at the heart of a multigenerational tale largely set in Salzburg in 1945 and in Budapest, both in the present and in 1913. Crucial to its plot is an enameled pendant, intricately worked in the design of a peacock, unusually colored in purple, white and green. Waldman skillfully interweaves this striking and enigmatic object - a symbol, as the book progresses, of fatal bad luck - into an ambitious sweep of history, setting the loss of millions of human lives against the pendant's own poignant, improbable survival. Waldman sustains her multiple plot lines with breathless confidence and descriptive panache, fashioning complex personalities caught up in an inexorable series of events.
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.
By allowing the narrative frames of the novel to interweave different stories and historical tales, Waldman creates a rich tapestry of detail which is both beautiful and heart-wrenching. At times funny, constantly compassionate, Love and Treasure forces you to look at the true value of objects and the worth of a life. A wonderful and extremely precious book.
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.
Waldman's novel skips continents and generations, telling a multi-layered and well-constructed story.
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.
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.
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?
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.
It's an absorbing, ambitious novel which manages to combine two love stories with the pace of a thriller while throwing light on an aspect of the Holocaust unusual in fiction."
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.
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.
absorbing... a compelling meditation on love, missed connections and the pull of history on the present... well-written and entertaining throughout.
An ambitious, perceptive novel
Well, Ms. Waldman, you can really write, and write brilliantly... The story moves seamlessly from 2013 in Maine, to March 1938, when Hitler invaded Austria, to 1945, and back to 2013 in Budapest and Israel, unfolding against the backdrop of monumental historical events... It would be a mistake to call Love and Treasure a Holocaust novel, although it is that, too. More than anything, this is a tale of hope, the unbreakable spirit of a people and the transformative power of love.
Waldman assuredly moves her novel in unexpected directions. At times a love story, and sometimes even a thriller, Love and Treasure reads like a document of the Holocaust, while also delving into the art world and embarking on an exploration of suffrage and the plight of women in the early twentieth century. Love and Treasure most successfully investigates what it means to be human. Waldman's somewhat playful take on Freudian analysis via Dr Zobel's couch is a delight to read, often disturbing and sometimes downright scary. There are no off-notes in this unpredictable and remarkable novel.
Ms. Waldman opens an intriguing topic here about the repatriation of art lost or stolen during wars or oppressive political regimes, and she presents a fresh perspective. Amitai, whose cynicism melts when he falls in love with Natalie, is my favorite character in a novel filled with good ones. His reaction to the Holocaust, like Jack's, changes as the novel gets deeper. After he engages a tour with a professor of Holocaust Studies in order to learn more about the objects he'll soon be buying, Amitai voices what many readers will find a disturbing viewpoint. The whirlwind tour of Auschwitz, Treblinka and other death camps infuriates him, but not for the predictable reason. Instead he wonders, what "was the point of elevating the history of Jewish calamity to such fetishistic heights? Wasn't it a kind of idolatry?" These are questions you won't often hear asked in America, but they're important in light of this country's relationship to Israel. However, that's not why you should read Love and Treasure. Read it because it's a wonderful book, filled with energy and wit, its tragedies leavened with love and insight.
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.
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
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.
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.
Ambitious... The eternal human struggle for self-determination and dignity pulses throughout.
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.
Love & Treasure is like the treasure train it chases: fast-paced, bound by a fierce mission, full of bright secrets and racingly, relentlessly moving.
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.