“Mr Rosenblum’s List” by Natasha Solomons

Date finished: 28th February 2011

I settled down for what I hoped would be a gentle read with Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons, and I was not disappointed. Jakob Rosenblum, his wife Sadie and daughter Elizabeth manage to obtain exit visas from 1930s Germany, and make their way to England to start a new life. Jakob becomes Jack, and decides the way to make the best of his new life is to assimilate. Inspired by a pamphlet he receives when he arrives in England, he sets about compiling a list of exactly how to be an Englishman. The book follows Jack and Sadie’s lives from the early days in London to their move to Dorset.

The cover and blurb of the book doesn’t really give much away, and I was surprised by the length of period that the book covers, and the direction Jack’s life took, as I have to admit, I was expecting it to cover just the war years, but it goes beyond that. I did know that the author lives in Dorset, and I was expecting the book to be a much more middle of the road, fish out of water, city man gets an allotment and gradually is accepted by the local villagers, and yet it was nothing like that at all!

I found Jack quite a frustrating character at times, but I loved Sadie. Her sadness, and at times anger, was palpable on the page, and her transformation throughout the book felt totally believable.

I did have one complaint, which was that I thought the resolution of one of the golf course storylines was a bit far fetched, and I didn’t quite believe in it, compared to the rest of the story. I can’t explain why without giving away spoilers, but for me, there were a couple of queries over some of the decisions made by some of the characters.

However, this was a very small complaint really, and only affected one chapter of the book, and I think the final chapter made up for it. A very good book that I loved reading.

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