Mr Rosenblum's List: or Friendly Guidance for the Aspiring Englishman Hardcover – 1 Apr 2010
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Hardcover, 1 Apr 2010
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'Prepare to be seriously charmed....hilarious and touching...Yes, the movie is already on its way - but please read the delightful novel first.' (The Times)
'In her charming debut, Natasha Solomons folds together Jewish baking, golf and Dorset folklore to create a singular comic confection.' (Daily Telegraph)
'A delightful tale of one man's determination of fufill his dream.' (Stylist)
'A tender exploration of the nature of home.' (Marie Claire)
'A subtle and moving examination of the dilemma faced by immigrants to modern Britain.' (Observer)
'written with skill, humour and sympathy' (The Lady)
'Solomons' has an exceptional feel for the Dorset countryside.' (Country Life)
'The descriptions of England - as home, adversary and eventually friend - are exquisite. Jack Rosenblum, a foolish, deeply sympathetic protagonist, is exasperating and admirable in equal measure. A touching, surprising and satisfying read.' (Sadie Jones, author of The Outcast)
'Utterly charming and very funny', Paul Torday, author of Salmon Fishing in the YemenSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Jack builds up a successful carpet making business and his cup of happiness would be overflowing if he could only find a golf club which would allow him to be a member. He hasn't ever played golf himself but he knows the true Englishman plays golf and belongs to a golf club. Eventually he decides to build his own golf course and buys a tumbledown house in the wilds of Dorset with 60 acres of land attached. His aim is to have the course finished by the time of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953. In spite of Jack's tenacity and determination he has his work cut out as it is already the middle 1952.
The story of Jack's golf course and the way he is taken to the hearts of the Dorset villagers is well told. There are some marvellous humorous touches and some poignant happenings. Sadie remembers her lost childhood in the ramshackle house and the green countryside and loses herself in baking from her mother's recipe book. The villagers call them Mr and Mrs Rose-in-bloom even when Jack changes their name to Rose. But there are serpents in this Eden and not everything goes smoothly.
I enjoyed this heart-warming story and the way rural England is portrayed from the point of view of an outsider.Read more ›
Natasha Solomons writes in a straightforward, gentle way. The prose is a pleasure throughout and she writes of what she knows: of the place where she grew up and now lives, and of the heritage of her family. All of this makes the book an easy and very enjoyable read; she captures beautifully the Dorset countryside, the turn of the seasons and the people of that part of England. However, within this almost cosy setting and structure, this book has a great deal to say about some very important things - among them the meaning of belonging; the effect of evil forces destroying a person's family and most of what gives them the sense of who they are; the pain of exile and people's responses to it and - not least - the meaning of being English. Solomons also catches, with a lovely lightness of touch, much of the experience of exile - the tiny reminders of the past, the importance of food, the significance of names, the never quite feeling secure, and so on.
Jack and Sadie, refugees from the Nazis, respond quite differently to their situation. Jack, by means of the eponymous list, is determined to forget all about the past, to be relentlessly cheerful and to make himself into what he believes to be an Englishman.Read more ›
If a literary criticism was in order, I could be quite harsh about some aspects of this book. Its plot feels derivative of the standard Hollywood/Britcom screenplay where some oddball characters and country stereotypes ultimately pull together to achieve an unlikely success. And there are moments of forced metaphor that make me wonder whether they were an `in joke' that I just wasn't in on.
But just as the Hollywood formula can be a comfort, and a cosy story of tenacity in the face of adversity can be quite uplifting, so Natasha Solomons' book reaches beyond its own limitations. In fact, I found myself winged along on her tale with a smile across my face and - more than once - laughed out loud at the little anecdotes of incompatibility that made Jack's drive to `fit in' seem so comic.
There are some more profound moments, of course, and I'm sure that the prejudices faced by the `Rose in Blooms' distilled elements of folk history from the writer's personal and family history. I got a distinct sense that Solomons believed she had a story to share and wrapping the injustices of life in humour is a very effective way of defusing their pain.
Well worth the few hours it will take to read... or you could wait for the movie ;) !
The story itself is quite slight. Jack Rosenblum and his family have managed to escape from Nazi Germany in 1937. When they arrive, he is given a comprehensive list of what it takes to be English. He takes this to heart, and sets out on his mission to become the perfect English gentleman.
His wife Sadie finds his determination to abandon his past baffling. She wants to hold on to their Jewishness and their Germanness. But Jack, despite establishing a successful business, decides to decamp to the countryside to build a golf course. This comes about due to the casual bigotry of the day which denies him entry to an existing golf club. Something he needs to do in order to be English.
Only after their arrival in the country does the story really take off, as Jack and Sadie slowly find acceptance and a place to call home, even if the locals do find them rather peculiar. Even if they themselves don't realise it. It's a countryside full of giant woolly pigs, jitterbug cider and characters from a country life soon to vanish for ever.
It manages to be funny, poignant and sentimental, despite (or possibly because) of the smallness of the story. A delightful surprise. Although I can't put my finger on why.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story is of a Jewish immigrant fleeing to Britain from Vienna, who tried his best to be everything a proper Englishman should be. Read morePublished on 26 April 2014 by Analytica
Delightful story with humour and sadness. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend.I took it on holiday and it was excellent reading then but enjoyable at any time.Published on 1 Nov. 2011 by Mrs. F. Harrington
I ordered this book as I heard the author being interviewed on the radio explaining how the story was based on the real-life experiences of her grandparents trying to create a new... Read morePublished on 8 Aug. 2011 by nicola1459
This book was brought to my attention by a relative who is presently reading a copy overseas and considers it a good read,sadly I am not of the same opinion. Read morePublished on 28 Jun. 2011 by Love to read
If you look down my list of reviews you'll see that I tend to give everything 4 or 5 stars. Maybe I should stop getting books that I like the sound of and branch out a bit more, I... Read morePublished on 23 Sept. 2010 by D. Thurgood
It is always a pleasure to read a book that is so easy to pick up, and in many ways feels like a light holiday read; but in other ways touches on profound issues such as loss and... Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 2010 by The Five Sisters
This is a well written book, themes of relationship, friendship and motivation against the backdrop of immigration and fears of being accepted is handled with humour and at times... Read morePublished on 19 Aug. 2010 by Dr Nick
The book is also available with a different title (Mr Rosenblum Dreams In English), so if you're thinking of buying both, expecting another story by the same author, don't! Read morePublished on 14 Aug. 2010 by Evan S. Cent
The quirky cover, and the blurb, seem to suggest this is an light-hearted view of the English psyche from the perspective of a newcomer, something like George Mikes's How To Be An... Read morePublished on 23 July 2010 by Amazon Customer