Review: Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons

This book counts towards my Reagan Arthur book challenge!

Jack and Sadie Rosenbloom emigrated to London, England just before the Second World War. When they arrived in their new country, Jack was given a checklist on how a proper English citizen behaves - a cheat sheet on how to blend in to his new home. Following it literally and without knowing all the nuances that any British citizen takes for granted sometimes leaves him puzzled and bewildered, but never daunted. Mr. Rosenbloom Dreams in English is Jack and Sadie's story of how they adapted to their new lives and sometimes how they didn't.

I really enjoyed Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English (called Mr. Rosenblum's List in the UK). I think Natasha Solomon did a fabulous job in relating what it's like to integrate into a new and very alien life. While I'm not Jewish, I found Jack and Sadie's experiences as Jewish immigrants easy to relate to and I recognized Jack's struggle to fit into a new country and its well-established culture very well. The author's light touch in representing the Rosenblum's struggle to blend in made the story a lot less heavy-handed than it might otherwise have been.

Food is used throughout the story to demonstrate how family and family history is cherished and memories held dear. One particular dessert, a baumtorte, is prepared by Sadie during her most challenging days and helps her cope with her feelings of sadness at the lives lost during the war. The author uses the layered cake as a rich metaphor for layers of memories.

The characters in this book are muti-faceted. Jack and Sadie are neither all good nor all bad - a bit of each quality are in both and it is what I believe gives the book depth and richness. The author knows her characters; Jack is normally an optimistic man and I couldn't help but root for him even when he did something that aggravated me. Writing from the perspective of a male character couldn't have been easy but Natasha Solomons succeeded.

I recommend this wonderful novel to anyone who enjoys reading stories about family bonds and true friendship.


bermudaonion on August 26, 2010 at 8:30 AM said...

I'm so glad to see you loved this book! I need to read it soon. I'll add a link to your review on the Reagan Arthur Books challenge blog.

Laura Fabiani on August 26, 2010 at 9:23 AM said...

I've always liked books that include food as a means of comfort. It's such an innate part of my culture. I'm glad you enjoyed this book. Sounds like a winner.

Bibliophile By the Sea on August 26, 2010 at 8:26 PM said...

I need to read this one as I have read several great reviews. Thanks 4 yours....great one

Staci on August 27, 2010 at 8:54 PM said...

What a beautiful review on a beautiful book!! One of my favorites this year!


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