DREAMS IN ENGLISH
BY NATASHA SOLOMONS
At the outset of World War II, Jack Rosenblum, his wife Sadie, and their baby daughter escape Berlin, bound for London. They are greeted with a pamphlet instructing immigrants how to act like "the English." Jack acquires Saville Row suits and a Jaguar. He buys his marmalade from Fortnum & Mason and learns to list the entire British monarchy back to 913 A.D. He never speaks German, apart from the occasional curse. But the one key item that would make him feel fully British -membership in a golf club-remains elusive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Natasha Solomons is a 29-year-old screenwriter. She based this story on her own grandparents' experience. Natasha lives in Dorset, England, where she co-writes screenplays with her husband and is pursuing a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century fiction. For more information, visit her at http://www.natashasolomons.wordpress.com/ Follow Natasha Solomons on Twitter.
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MR. ROSEBBLUM DREAMS IN ENGLISH by Natasha Solomons is a heart tugging, beautifully written book about Jack and Sadie Rosenblum. Theirs is the story of two Jewish Germans who migrate to England just before World War II is in full swing. Having left Germany when they did, they were luckily physically spared from the tragedies of Nazi Germany. So wasn’t the case however, for Sadie’s family and it is such a heavy burden to bear that it plays an important part throughout the whole story. Sadie continually tries to remember her life with her family before she was forced to leave. Jack is the polar opposite as he fights to integrate into the English way of life.
Upon arrival in England, Jack was given a handout with information on how to be English, a pamphlet entitled "While You Are in England: Helpful Information". Jack decides that he will follow these guidelines steadfastly. He even stops speaking German, even to Sadie, except occasionally when under stress he comes out with a choice word or two. When Jack is arrested and labeled a "class B enemy alien (possible security risk)", it puzzles Jack and he figures he is still doing something wrong so goes back to his pamphlet guidelines and then adds to them with his own minute details. When it says that you shouldn’t use your hands to gesture as you are talking, Jack works hard on accomplishing this. He explains to Sadie how she must buy haddock on Friday mornings as that is what the typical Englishman’s wife would do.
Jack is dedicated to it to a point that it enables him to become a successful businessman. But the last point on the list writes of how an Englishman must be a member of a golf club. This is his downfall as he is unable to master this. Jack is rejected from every club he attempts to join because he is Jewish. However, Jack is not one to be easily deterred and so he begins to build his own golf course. As Jack tries to be a “good Englishman” learning to play golf, Sadie continues to struggle with her sadness and feeling of seclusion in this new country.
Sadie is reluctant to abandon her Jewish identity, and dislikes her husband's eagerness to do so. She begins writing a list of her own with things like remembering to keep the Sabbath with the strict dietary laws of her religion. Sadie cooks entirely from her mother's recipes. But with Sadie’s following these customs, it only makes her feel more uncomfortable in this new country. She begins to feel very isolated through her own actions and finds her only solace in their baby daughter. The author writes this book about her grandparents and has such an excellent way of describing the life of the Rosenblums as if she were alive through all of this. She naturally also writes with a depth of affectionate feeling and that translates into a lovely, well written story that I found a nice change of pace from books I have been more recently reading.
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