Reviewed by: Steve Capell
This novel opens up with Gerta Rosen, a survivor of the Second World War, looking at a painting hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago. Gerta and becomes very emotionally charged because she remembers that painting belonged to her neighbors, the Berger Family, in Berlin. She reads on the plaque that the painting was donated to the Art Institute by Woodmere Family Foundation. The reason Greta is so emotionally charged is that she is sure the painting was stolen by the Nazis. This revelation tarnishes the name of Woodmere Family Foundation.
The novel then flashes back to Taylor Woodmere and to the year 1937. Taylor goes to Europe for family business leaving his girlfriend, Emily, waiting for his return. While in Europe he meets Sarah Berger, and falls in love with her. Also while in Europe he sees and buys a painting by Artist Henri Lebasque and buys it for his Emily who is waiting in Chicago for his return. But when Taylor falls in love with Sarah he decides to give the painting to her. I will not go into the details of how the painting tied the story together, but Deby Eisenberg weaves the two plots together for a fantastic ending.
I will say up front that I am not huge fan of novels that use flashbacks; however, Deby Eisenberg masterfully handles the flashback between 2004 and 1937 with such ease and eloquence.
I love Pictures of the Past and how it ties family, friends, and romance during that era of time during and after the build up of Nazi Germany. This novel is exquisitely written, fierily emotional and at the same time exhibiting a touch of romance that delicately settles around the reader like a gossamer fog at daylight.
Deby has created wonderful rich characters that just seem real to me. Each character had their own human flaws and the dialog between the characters fit perfectly. I felt the character development is one of Deby’s strongest writing characteristics.
You’ll be astonished, grateful, and ready to recommend this book to a friend by the time you’re done.
I have given this book a 5 rating out of 5. I do not rate many novels with this high of rating. I only give a 5 rating to novels that I would consider reading a second time. This novel will be read again.
In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: The publisher provided this book and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” (5/5)