"Love and Treasure: A Novel"

Apr 23, 2014

On this installment of ST, we're pleased to speak with Ayelet Waldman, the well-known novelist and essayist whose previous books include "Red Hook Road," "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits," "Daughter's Keeper," and "Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes." Waldman tells us about her newest book, a novel called "Love and Treasure." It's been getting some rave reviews lately --- The Washington Post called it "absorbing [and] moving [and] a marvelous panorama of early-20th-century attitudes about women" --- and it was thus summarized in Booklist: "Classics scholar Jack Wiseman, in the last throes of pancreatic cancer, entrusts an enamel locket to his granddaughter, imploring her to find the rightful owner. It’s the only thing he’s ever asked of her. During WWII, Jack had been a soldier in charge of storing the possessions found on 'the gold train,' which contained the accumulated wealth of Hungarian Jews who had been shipped off to concentration camps. The contents were all meticulously accounted for. But who was there to receive them? The responsibility weighed heavily on Jack, not least because of his involvement with Ilona, a survivor whose shockingly black sense of humor both upsets and entrances him. As Waldman takes us back to Hungary, first in the aftermath of the war, then to the years preceding it, she evokes what it feels like to have your identity and your community stripped from you and how impossibly foolish it can be to think your personal destiny is within your control. With its complicated politics and moral ambiguity, this provocative novel tells a fascinating story." Waldman also has some interesting things to say about how carefully she and her husband Michael Chabon edit one another's manuscripts.