Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits,
returns with a work of fiction that departs from her familiar territory of marriage and motherhood. Love and Treasure
is a well-researched tale that unfolds in three intertwining stories set in 1913 Budapest, post–World War II Austria, and present-day Maine.
Jack Wiseman is a Jewish American soldier charged with guarding the contents of the Hungarian Gold Train in Austria after U.S. troops take control of it in 1945. While trying to protect the stolen haul—watches, silver flatware, kiddush cups, jewelry, furs, carpets, and porcelain, all of it seized from Hungarian Jews before they were sent to concentration camps—Jack meets Ilona, an outspoken and audacious Holocaust survivor.
For the rest of his life, their brief, passionate, and ill-fated love remains vivid in his mind, so much so that on his deathbed, he charges his granddaughter, Natalie (still reeling from the dissolution of her marriage), with the mission of returning a necklace he stole from the train more than half a century earlier. The gold and enamel pendant, which Jack pocketed because it made him think of Ilona, is the talisman that links the three narratives. Natalie's search for its rightful owner leads her to an art dealer who opens her eyes to more than the significance of the piece in her possession. He in turn helps Natalie sift through history to locate the artifact's original owner, Nina Einhorn, and her beloved friend Gizella Weisz, suffragists fighting for women's rights in Budapest in the early part of the 20th century.
Waldman, a student of the Holocaust and its aftermath, draws from historical fact to create these multigenerational tales that reveal clues to the reader the way a locket exposes a hidden image. With Love and Treasure, she has carefully crafted a work that measures memory against oblivion, value against wealth, and legacy against possession.