Review: Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
Jack and Sadie Rosenblum immigrate from Germany to England in 1937 and Jack aspires to be English from the moment they arrive. When a man from the ‘German Jewish Aid Committee’ hands Jack a pamphlet called While you are in England: Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for every Refugee, Jack takes it to heart. Some of the items are fairly easy for Jack to accomplish – don’t criticize the government, don’t speak German in public – but one thing always alludes him – joining a golf club. It seems that no one will admit Jack because he’s Jewish. Jack and Sadie live in London and Jack starts a fairly successful business. He becomes obsessed with joining a golf club and when he doesn’t succeed, he decides to sell their home, move to the country and build a course of his own. Sadie isn’t happy about the move, but goes along with it. She hasn’t assimilated as well as Jack and she still continues to mourn the family she left behind in Germany. Through it all, Sadie and Jack persevere and grow stronger than ever.
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, by Natasha Solomons, is based on the experiences of the author’s grandparents, and I found it to be charming. I could really relate to Jack and Sadie – it’s difficult to maintain your own culture and assimilate into a new one at the same time. I felt that the relationship between the two was very true to life – since Jack went to work each day and Sadie stayed home, he was adjusting to their new way of life with more ease. I thought the characters of the small town of Dorset were fantastic too. I don’t want to say too much about what happens to the Rosenblums in Dorset because that would ruin part of the story, but I really enjoyed the journey Jack and Sadie made. Things weren’t always easy, but they stuck together and made it work the best they could, and learned so much along the way. Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English is a quiet, contemplative novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My book club read this for our second meeting and everyone enjoyed the novel. We had a lively discussion about immigration and the value of belonging. Most people thought that it usually takes a generation before immigrants fully assimilate. Even though everyone liked Jack and Sadie, most people said Curtis, one of the characters in Dorset, was their favorite.
Challenges: The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge
Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.