Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons
October 27, 2010 10 Comments
Mr Rosenblum’s List (2010) is also known as Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English (American edition). Both titles don’t cover the content, but List is the more appropriate title for sure.
Mr Rosenblum’s List: what it’s about?
Mr Rosenblum, Jack, and his wife Sadie, are German Jews who move to England just before the Second World War. They are given a sheet with Helpful Information and Guidance for Every Refugee.
Mr Rosenblum wants to fit in with the English. He does not want to be perceived as a Jew or a German, he wants to be an Englishman. He follows the sheet (list) with information to the letter and adds new points that he finds to be important, such as buying one’s marmalade from Fortnum & Mason and being a member of a golf course.
The latter point is a difficult one. Jack Rosenblum is not accepted in any golf course around London, where he lives. While his non-Jewish friends have no problems joining, Jack is being told that there is a waiting list every time.
Having made a lot of money with his carpet factory, he then buys a cottage in Dorset with enough land attached to start his own golf course. The rest of the book is about Jack preparing the land for a golf course, and his struggles to get it officially opened.
Mr Rosenblum’s List: what I thought
I find it hard to say exactly what I thought of the book. I loved the last part of the book, it was humorous, positive things happened (as well as some less positive ones), it was heart-warming. However, the beginning was just so-so. I never really liked Mr Rosenblum and his wife very much. He tried very hard to be English but only worked towards what he perceived as being English. He never checked with anyone English if he was doing things right.
I also didn’t like how he didn’t keep up with his factory much and with the hard-working people there. Being very self-centered he focused only on his golf course.
But I liked the description of Dorset and its people. The countryside. The very believable daughter who was essentially an Englishwoman with foreign parents. While still young, she didn’t want to have too much to do with them, because they were embarrassing.
The story as such was well thought out although sometimes a little unlikely. It felt like a fairy tale some of the time. I guess my (small) problem was not with the way the story was told but with some of the elements, such as Jack himself, who I didn’t find very likable, but I also didn’t like it when he was being discriminated against, etc.
I could imagine non-English people enjoying this book a lot if only because of the typically English atmosphere and the quite funny Dorset natives.
I got this book: for our book club meeting this Friday. I had heard of the book beforehand and wanted to read it anyway.
I read this in: the original language, English.