Wednesday, July 2, 2014

From the Hungarian Gold Train

Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
: April 1, 2014 by Knopf
I've read a lot of books about the Holocaust, but never anything quite like this. Normally it's a tale of the time leading up to the war and how they made it through. Once the war is over it's in someways "a happily ever after" because they survived, but nothing ever goes into what happened afterwards. You'd hope that things went back to normal, but knowing all the hate still around logically you know that can't be the case. I've never read anything that explored this time, which is one reason why I so enjoyed Love & Treasure.

The book starts off after the end of WWII with the story of Jack, an American soldier, tasked with the responsibility of looking after the Hungarian gold train. Except instead of gold and jewels the train is full of belongings of the Jews of Hungary. Jack's story could have easily been enough for an entire novel, but instead the book is divided into 3, somewhat connected, almost novellas. After Jack's story, which was my favorite, the book followed Jack's granddaughter in modern day. But the story that surprised me the most, and was my second favorite, took place in Hungary in 1913.

It was interesting reading this book after Degrees of Courage. Until then I hadn't read a thing about Hungary, but with it as a background I felt things made a little more sense in Love and Treasure. They didn't explain a lot about the structure of Hungary, or the fact that Budapest is made up to two cities (Buda and Pest) which could have been confusing. But since I read Degrees of Courage I felt a bit in the know.

I'm still a bit undecided about how I feel about the book's structure. I didn't dislike it necessarily, but I felt a bit surprised by it. Especially since I think each novella could have stood alone fleshed out. Part of me wonders how it would have worked if the stories were intertwined, but I'm not sure if it would have worked that way. Either way it is about a captivating subject with a somewhat unconventional way of telling it.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.


  1. I used to be an Ayelet Waldman fan, until I read one of her books that I just did not like!

  2. I put this one on hold at the library because it sounds really interesting.