Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 book 69

Ayelet Waldman's Love and Treasure
I love how Waldman has started busting out these stunning books, epic in scope, after beginning her career writing a series of cozy mysteries. Not that there's anything wrong with cozy mysteries--one of my favorite genres!--it's just, come on STUNNING and EPIC are not words usually used to describe them. Anyway, this one starts off with an elderly Jewish man, dying of cancer, whose granddaughter, fleeing from a failed marriage, is coming to stay with him. Then it flashes back to his career as an American soldier just after WWII, when he's been taken away from his unit and forced to work as a translator--and then to take charge of a train of valuable items stolen from Hungarian Jews. All while he tries to woo a pretty red-haired refugee. And then we have the granddaughter again, trying to track down the heirs of the owner of a particular item from the train (though I love that she does historical research in this section, I feel like the romance here is totally unnecessary, and is kind of a misstep, and doesn't read realistically at all). And then we flash back again, to the owner herself! This section is BRILLIANTLY narrated by a psychoanalyst of the sort that is very typical of the early 1900s. He's convinced her menstrual cramps are caused by hysteria. It's maddening and hilarious. (This was by far my favorite part. She's a suffragist!!) An epilogue wraps things up, more or less. Anyway, Waldman's writing is really on-point here--not too ostentatious, but all-in-all really lovely. She thanks Julie Orringer and Andrew Sean Greer in the acknowledgments, and I feel like their prose serves as a good comparison. Strong writing and a very strong and readable story. A/A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on April 1st.

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