A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.
In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.
A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart—Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past.
About the Author
Ayelet Waldman is the author of the novels Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, as well as of the essay collection Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace and the Mommy-Track Mystery series. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and four children.
Praise for Love and Treasure…
"Grounded in history, this exciting novel is full of twists and compelling characters.”
“Waldman’s historically resonant novel offers stories within stories, spanning a century. . . . A page-turner.” —Chicago Tribune
“Powerful. . . . Waldman sustains her multiple plot lines with breathless confidence and descriptive panache.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Waldman is a wonderfully imaginative writer, but she’s drawn the central event of her absorbing new novel directly from history …. [A] triumph.” —The Washington Post
“One is quickly caught up in Love and Treasure . . . at times a document, a thriller, a love story, a search.” —Michael Ondaatje
“A novel to love and treasure.” —Philippa Gregory
“Thoughtful, expansive. . . . The pendant’s crooked passage across the century . . . hold[s] the book’s elegantly balanced parts together like the wire of a Calder mobile.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Ambitious, absorbing, and poignantly moving.” —Joyce Carol Oates
“Engaging. . . . Lively. . . . The female characters … are headstrong women brimming with passion, regrets and ideals.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Evocative and enthralling." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A tragic love story rooted in one of our darkest moments. . . . Readers will sink into Waldman’s rich descriptions.” —MORE
“Love and Treasure is like the treasure train it chases: fast-paced, bound by a fierce mission, full of bright secrets and racingly, relentlessly moving.” —Daniel Handler
“A compelling meditation on love, missed connections and the pull of history on the present…. Well-written and entertaining.” —USA Today
“Love and Treasure is less concerned with belongings than with belonging—with the Jewish people’s ongoing hunt for community and homeland, and what one character calls ‘a sense of loyalty and identity’. Those things, once stolen, are much harder to get back.” —The Wall Street Journal
“What ethics govern the custodians of property that can never be returned? How do the personal and the political intertwine in the wake of historical tragedy? These questions permeate the novel. . . . The human stories behind the looted objects flicker into life.” —The Boston Globe
“One of the most notorious cases of property theft in WWII. . . is a story ripe for retelling . . . Waldman brings to life the world of the Central European Jewish haute bourgeoisie.” —Tablet Magazine
“Classic perfection . . . . One never knows what turning the page will bring. Highly recommended.” —New York Journal of Books
“Conveys the scope of the tragedy as well as the richness of Hungarian Jewish history . . . Her best work.” —J Weekly
“Love and Treasure is romantic, provocative and ripe for discussion—a historical novel that is as timely and relevant as ever.” –Bookreporter.com
“Exquisitely crafted.” —San Jose Mercury News
“A work that measures memory against oblivion, value against wealth, and legacy against possession." —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Love and Treasure embodies the staples of a timeless adventure narrative. . . . An exhilarating read that is as thoughtful as it is provocative.” —Vox Magazine
“Waldman’s novel skips continents and generations, telling a multi-layered and well-constructed story.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Full of intriguing complexity. . . . Calls us to reevaluate what it is that we treasure most.” —Bustle