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The Thing We Cherished by Pam Jenoff

Sunday, August 21, 2011
Pam Jenoff, whose first novel, The Kommandant’s Girl, was a Quill Award finalist, a Book Sense pick, and a finalist for the ALA Sophie Brody Award, joins the Doubleday list with a suspenseful story of love and betrayal set during the Holocaust.
An ambitious novel that spans decades and continents, The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attor­neys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes.

The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, mysteri­ously refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor.

Rich in historical detail, Jenoff’s astonishing new work is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances.

Goodreads Summary

The story describes two love triangles – a century apart.  Today’s lawyers, the Warrington brothers and Charlotte Gold, are tasked with the defense of Roger Dykmans who loved his brother’s wife Magda during the Holocaust.  The narrative is woven around the tale of a handcrafted timepiece which has a heartbreaking past of its own. 

Young adult and adult readers may enjoy the mystery of the clock’s evidence as a defense against the horrible crime of betraying a brother and innocent children to the Nazis.  The love stories convey elation, uncertainty, longing, and denial.  The author easily navigates from one time period to another with well-written dialogue and prose.  The characters are both relatable and sympathetic, the reader will enjoy them.  The plot is horrifying yet interesting, the reader's attention will be held. 

4 Stars