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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The prose ranges from simple story telling to flights of fantasy, and you're often left unsure whether it's meant to be read as fantasy or as a 'normal' story. I think it's a fable - there are many morals here. But please don't be put off - it doesn't moralise; more leaves you to make your own judgements about the character's motives etc.
It's very entertaining too, as well as full of pathos and heartbreak. A fine, fine story, well worth the reading.
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. There are eccentric characters such as the cider drinking Curtis - even he doesn't know how old he is; the truculent farmer Jack Basset and the scheming lord of the manor - Sir William Waegbert. There is also a great deal of kindness mixed in with the initial distrust of `foreigners'. The descriptions of the countryside are evocative and you can almost smell the scents of the greenery. If you want to know what a Dorset woolly-pig is and the recipe for a cider which will help you to see one - together with the recipe for Coronation Chicken - you will enjoy this charming story.
The second half of the book, however, improves greatly. Jack's wall-flower wife Sadie and daughter Elizabeth come into their own. Apparently one-dimensional West Country stereotype Curtis develops extra dimensions too. As Jack's struggle to be accepted by the locals takes some unexpected turns it starts becoming more poignant, as well as less predictable. The descriptions of country life start getting more complex and more evocative.
Gradually you start to feel a sense of the real pain and displacement that people in that position must have felt every day of their life. By the end it's genuinely touching, and difficult to put down- something I wasn't expecting when I was halfway through.
A book that's worth persevering with.
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