Great cover! Great story! Great writing!
What does banking have to do with war? Almost everything. The Goldbaum family are a fabulously wealthy and wildly influential Jewish family who pretty much are in charge of the money in Europe’s banking system. With a chain of banks centered in all the big hubs of Europe, they are huge. London, Paris, Vienna, and on and on. They may be super wealthy and unbelievably powerful, however, they are also quite human and vulnerable.
Greta is a young Goldbaum who has recently become betrothed to a distant Goldbaum cousin. He lives in England; she in Vienna. They have yet to meet. The wedding bells have all but pealed when the story begins. She is not the type of young woman who bows down to tradition. But she knows it’s her duty to marry this man and off she goes by train with family members. First stop is Paris where she is already in trouble when she accepts the gifts of designer duds made by an infamous dressmaker. As the wedding date closes in on her she begins to panic. No one can save her. Her brother is there for support. Her cousin Andre is by her side. She seriously starts thinking of escape…
Albert is the soon -to- be bride groom. How does he feel about the upcoming nuptials? Albert is only interested in his bug and butterfly collection. He is the dutiful second son to the English Goldbaum fortune and banking hierarchy. He does as he is told. What a boring guy. But he is very good looking. And he totally steps outside his comfort zone the morning of the wedding…
So what sort of match is this, anyhow? Wait and see. What starts out slowly, begins to blossom. I am going to just say this: It took me some time to get into this book. But once I did, I loved it. I’ve not read a lot about World War One. And what I have read was totally different than this novel. This is a very sophisticated story of love, duty, banking, and love. It shows how even though these people were filthy rich and unbelievably intelligent, because they were of Jewish heritage, they were outsiders.
This is a story of women, and their plight to keep on going even with the threat of war on their doorsteps. Gardening becomes a huge part of their lives. I loved the scenes in the gardens. Have never read anything so comprehensive about gardening yet fascinating. The writing is superb.
As the relationship between Albert and Greta changes I became more and more entranced. Solomons has managed to create a world apart from war even while inside of it.
I became quite attached to both Albert and Greta, although I think I may have even favored Albert by the story’s end. Didn’t see that coming. This big fat saga will satisfy the biggest historical fiction lover out there. Grab yourself a copy and curl up for a story to sink your teeth in.
My review copy came from Penguin Random House through Copperfish Books. I loved it.