Mr. Rosenfield Dreams in English

Friday, July 2, 2010

Title: Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
Author: Natasha Solomons
Pages: 355
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Reagan Arthur (Little, Brown/Hachette)
Release Date:
June 21, 2010

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English (originally a bestseller in the UK where it was titled Mr. Rosenblum's List) is a whimsical and somewhat charming tale about a couple trying to build a life for themselves in England. Despite these qualities, however, which some readers will certainly find endearing, I felt a personal lack of connection to this book.

It begins with Jack and Sadie Rosenblum escape to England from Germany around the start of World War II. Jack immediately tries to assimilate with the new culture by becoming the perfect "Englishman". Upon arriving in England, Jack is given a pamphlet with some rules about how to be an Englishman. Jack intensely adheres to this list and adds to it as he learns about the world in which he is now living. His wife, Sadie, on the other hand is not so excited to be in England and misses her family. She certainly doesn't want to "deliberately assimilate" with the culture, and can't understand her husband's resolve. Years pass and Jack decides that in order to truly be an Englishman he must obtain membership to a golf club. He seeks out golf club after golf club only to find that no one wants him because of his background (for which they refer to him as a "kraut" -- a derogatory term for a German soldier). So he decides to build his own. The rest of this novel revolves around him reaching this goal and further assimilating into his new community.

Like I mentioned, some readers will find this story adorable and endearing (and did according to other reviews I've read). But I found this, overall, to be anticlimactic. I felt conflicted for much of the book with wanting Jack to reach his goal but, ultimately, feeling annoyed that he was trying so hard to be someone else. In that respect I related more to Sadie, but I even felt a lack of connection to her. The characters weren't as fully fleshed out as I would have preferred. The plot is slow moving and focuses almost completely on the plot points that have already been mentioned here. The author has a talent for writing, however, and I enjoyed her easy but well worded narrative style.

Originally published at Luxury Reading


Nikola said...

I hate when this happens. The author is a good one, he/she makes you care about the characters and then they turn out to be... Whatever.

Too bad you didn't enjoy this one. What's next on your TBR? said...

This is one of those books I'd be tempted to pick up just for the wonderful title. It's a shame you didn't really connect with the characters or the story.

bermudaonion said...

I'm sorry to see this didn't work for you. I've added your review to the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge blog.

Julie P. said...

Like Kathy, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you. It's interesting when a book has so many different opinions.

Jenny said...

Nikola -- Yeah, and I think the writing being good is what kept me reading it. The characters weren't awful, and sometimes they did or said something I found interesting, but in all I found them sort of bland.

Stephanie -- I really liked the title and the cover too, lol!

Kathy -- Thanks!

Julie -- Definitely, and with this one I can see where some people would still like it!

Zibilee said...

I think I am just so burnt out on WWII and post WWII books right now that I probably wouldn't like this one. Add to that the fact that the plot is so slow moving and revolves so much around assimilation, and I know I would not like it. I am glad to have read your opinion on this one, as I had not heard of this book before and now I know that it's not really one for me.

nomadreader said...

I'm sorry this one didn't work for you. I really enjoyed reading a balanced review about why it still may appeal to others. Thanks!

Booksnyc said...

I have been reading a lot about this book recently and was looking forward to it - I am sorry it didn't work for you!

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