My husband was given this copy as a Birthday present this time last year, he read it straight away pronouncing it brilliant and that I should definitely be reading it. I usually avoid books for at least awhile if they have a lot of hype surrounding them and this one seemed to pop up everywhere. According to its front cover the film was already on the way by the time the paperback was published! I would of course like to see the film at some stage so thought it was about time I read the book, as I always do so if possible. Seeing the film first absolutely ruins a book for me, as there is no point in using my visual imagination while reading. A charming and funny story but I also found it sad.
At the heart of this novel is a little, literally as only 5ft 3”, German immigrant Jack Rosenblum. Arriving in England in 1937 along with his wife Sadie and one year old daughter Elizabeth, wanting to blend in and become a member of the English middle classes. With the help of the pamphlet the refugees were presented with on arrival he intends to study and use all the information listed to become a perfect English Gentleman. He realises that this leaflet just skims the surface when it comes to fitting in so he starts to add his own addendums the most important of which he feels is that ‘An Englishman must be a member of a Golf Club’. Poor Jack despite his careful copying of everything British there is no Golf Club to be found that will accept his membership. The rest of the novel is taken up with his attempts to build his own golf course in the heart of the Dorset countryside and shows how by doing so he succeeds in alienating himself from both the locals and his roots. His wife Sadie is confused by his attitude as she does not want to forget the family and country they left behind.
I felt this novel provided not just a picture of the problems of one set of immigrants to Great Britain before the Second World War but a description of the dilemmas facing all immigrants even nowadays.
As the actual original leaflet states ‘Be loyal to England your host’
Natasha Solomons was born in 1980. Her first job, aged nine, was as a shepherdess, minding the flock on Bulbarrow hill. Since then, she has worked as a screenwriter with her husband, she is also researching a PhD in eighteenth-century poetry. She lives in Dorset.
Books in focus: Natasha Solomons discusses her book Mr Rosenblum's List – No spoiler.
Author Alan Gold interviews British Jewish author Natasha Solomons on her first novel, Mr Rosenblum's list
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