Sunday, 11 March 2012

Mr Rosenblum's List

Mr Rosenblum's List by Natasha Solomons

This author gave a talk at the Wimborne Literary festival last autumn and I bought this book from her then.

Mr Rosenblum is a German Jewish refugee who moved to England before the second world war. The novel takes place in the early 1950s. Jack Rosenblum is relatively well off, from his successful carpet-manufacturing business. But what he wants more than anything is to be accepted as a true Englishman. His List is based on a pamphlet of advice given to refugees when they first arrive in England, and he has added to it ever since. Last on his list is to be accepted as a member by a golf course.

But no golf course will take him. So he decides to build his own. He and his wife Sadie move to a Dorset village and buy a ramshackle cottage with a few acres of hilly land. He sets about building the golf course - on his own to start with but as he gradually makes friends with the locals they come to help him. He's determined to open the course in time for the Queen's coronation in 1953. There are numerous setbacks but his enthusiasm and determination, then his friends faith in him, mean he is finally successful.

This is a lovely, heart-warming book. Jack Rosenblum is one of those characters once read, never forgotten. And the evocation of deepest rural Dorset in the 50s is brilliant - full of tales of the elusive Dorset woolly pig and other mythical creatures. Wasn't sure about the way the point of view jumps around - this was a little unnerving in places - but overall it's a great read.

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