Friday, August 24, 2012

The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Local Library
Read: August 20, 2012

An ambitious novel that spans decades and continents, The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attor­neys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes. The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, mysteri­ously refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor. Rich in historical detail, Jenoff’s astonishing new work is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances.

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I’m a WWII junkie, but Holocaust fiction has always been hit and miss in my book. It wasn’t until reading The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman, that I was truly moved by the adapted subject matter which is what led me to Pam Jenoff's The Things We Cherished. I was familiar with Jenoff’s work, but even so, the material and angle seemed rather ambitious. Truth be told, I wasn't convinced she could pull off dual timelines anchored by a torsion style timepiece, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. 

Turns out I needn’t have worried. Jenoff's use of the anniversary clock as a central plot element proved inspired and I was as thoroughly engaged in Charlotte and Jack's story as I was captivated by Roger and Magda's. Cover to cover I loved this book. 

My sole criticism has so little relevance it hardly deserves mention, but who exactly is the kissing couple on the cover supposed to be? Roger and Magda would never display their affection so publicly and the clothing is a bit outdated for Charlotte and Jack. I like the image and all, but am I the only one who likes the cover to represent the text? 

I didn't expect to fall in love with this book, but love it I did. The Things We Cherished is a superb WWII romance and an absolute must read.

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He imagined a home with a mantelpiece, tried to envision the people who would look at and admire it and take from it the cadence of their day. A piece of himself, going places he would never see.
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