House of Gold

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

A really, really enjoyable sweeping historical drama with glamour, romance and drama. It has a Downton Abbey feel to it and I just loved the history as well as the character depth. I really felt for each of them and wanted to know what would happen. I would absolutely recommend it, I just wanted to keep reading.
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Over the years I have picked up Natasha Solomons novels and always enjoyed the stories that she has had to tell. 

This one was no different, although I have had it languishing on my kindle and on netgalley for far too long. 

The Goldbaums have a place in society, tolerated because of their wealth. 

They are respected by governments across Europe, because of their wealth. 

If you are a male Goldbaum then banking is your business whether you choose it or not. 

If you are a female Goldbaum then your business is to be a Goldbaum wife and mother. 

The Goldbaum's are the dynasty that spreads across Europe with power and influence. 

That is until war comes. The Great War. 

This powerful position is played throughout the novel and I learnt a lot about how such power and wealth comes to play in war. An angle I had never considered in such depth before, but one I could see very clearly now. Though I put that down to my age and knowledge of events that have gone past since The Great War. 

The story though is ultimately about Greta and how despite being a Goldbaum from one branch and having to marry into another branch is fiercely independent and determined to make her mark and not be overlooked in any way. Her actions and challenges to the norm and what is 'expected' were both heartwarming and heartbreaking. She can be found naked under the cherry tree in the early days of marriage, she will breastfeed her son herself. She will understand the power and knowledge that women  can have in a man's world. She will love and she will grieve, for everything she knows about her Goldbaum history will be torn apart by war and the greed of money. 

A really interesting novel, and whilst I found it rather slow in parts, the business of gold and war bonds did sometimes detract from the story too much. I knew it was based in part on some sort of truth, the family really portrayed is similar to the Rothschild's. The strong sense of anti-Semitism was clear, although I think history was manipulated a bit to bring the point across. The impact though can be felt by the reader. 

A historical novel worthy of reading, to bring another aspect to many of the novels which feature The Great War.
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The Goldbaums marry Goldbaums. Female Goldbaums host nice parties, have babies and aqcuiese to their husband’s requests. Male Goldbaums become bankers and make lots of money.

Greta, although young and sheltered, grew on me. I felt intensely her wish to be free, her wish to enjoy her husband and life. From establishing her garden her way, to battling for her female head gardener and her establishment of a labour ward for women who couldn’t fit in the hospitals crammed with soldiers from the frontlines – everything quietly screamed “I have a choice”.

It is a personal story inside a family saga over the period around world war one encased in the extravagance of the superbly wealthy. I zoomed through this book, devouring Greta and Albert’s story. It was beautiful and tragic and happy.
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It’s been a long time since I read my first Natasha Solomons book, The Novel in the Viola. Although I enjoyed it, for some inexplicable reason I had never really thought about reading any of her other books until I spotted her new one, House of Gold, which was published in the UK last month. I think it was the simple, elegant cover that caught my attention, at a time when covers in general are becoming increasingly intricate and brightly coloured, but the story sounded appealing too...and it was. I loved it.

House of Gold tells the story of a fictional banking family, the Goldbaums, who are loosely based on the real-life Rothschilds. When we first meet the family in 1911, they are fabulously wealthy and hugely influential, with branches in five European capital cities. In a move intended to strengthen the ties between the Austrian and the British branches, a marriage has been arranged between Greta Goldbaum and her cousin Albert. This is nothing new – Greta has grown up with the knowledge that “the Goldbaum men were bankers, while the Goldbaum women married Goldbaum men and produced Goldbaum children”, but she has no desire to marry Albert and is sure they won’t be compatible. Of course, the wedding must go ahead anyway and Greta is forced to leave her parents’ home in Vienna to start a new life as a married woman in England.

The relationship between Greta and Albert is at the heart of the novel and I enjoyed watching them get to know each other, trying each in their own way to make their marriage work but not always succeeding. It’s not always easy, especially not for Greta, but even when things are at their worst she finds some fulfilment in transforming the gardens of Temple Court, the British Goldbaums’ estate in Hampshire, and as a result of taking on new responsibilities and developing new interests, she is able to grow as a person.

There is much more to the novel than this, though. Within a few short years of Greta’s marriage to Albert, the First World War begins, bringing with it new challenges, new difficulties but also new opportunities. With European governments desperate for money to fund their war efforts, the services of the Goldbaums are as much in demand as ever, but as a Jewish family they find that their position is no longer as secure as it has been in the past. For Greta, there is the additional problem of being stuck in the middle, with different branches of her family on opposite sides of the conflict.

Natasha Solomons takes us right to the centre of the action, with characters such as Greta’s beloved brother Otto and her French cousin Henri becoming directly caught up in the war that is tearing Europe apart. We also learn a lot about the role of money in war; to quote Otto, “Money has no passport and every passport...it has little respect for borders. Money, like water, finds a way.”

There’s so much going on in this novel ...so many characters to meet and so many interesting stories to follow. Maybe that’s why, after being completely gripped by the lives and adventures of the Goldbaums, I was slightly disappointed by the unexpectedly abrupt ending and by subplots which seemed to lack a proper resolution. I hope that means Natasha Solomons might be planning a sequel. It would certainly be possible, but if not I will just have to go back and read her earlier novels. I have Mr Rosenblum’s List, The Gallery of Vanished Husbands and The Song Collector to choose from.
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House of Gold follows the immensely rich and powerful Goldbaum family, whose power is said to extend across Europe:

‘Such is the power and wealth of the Goldbaums that on dull days, it’s said, they hire the sun just for themselves.’

A family of bankers with a wealth of powerful connections, they seem to have the world at their feet. That is, until the First World War.

It’s sort of a book of two halves. First we follow Greta and her comfortable, happy live in Austria. Greta is about to enter a strategic arranged marriage with her English cousin Albert, which she is not at all excited about.

I loved Greta. I haven’t had many books recently in which I totally adored the main character, but I did adore her. I loved her feisty and opinionated nature. I liked her wildness, how she would sneak off from fancy parties to observe the stars with her brother. Speaking of which, I really liked the relationship between Greta and her brother, and I felt her heartbreak keenly when she had to move away to London.

The book focuses on Greta, and her new husband Albert, who are immediately at odds with each other (their relationship felt nuanced, realistic and was very interesting to read, as a side note). Greta struggles to find ownership of her new life, finding rare moments of solace and independence in her garden, gifted by her mother-in-law. Meanwhile, political tensions and financial problems are stressing the heads of the Goldbaum family, and everything comes crashing down around them when the Great War begins.

At this point, the novel changes quite dramatically, which works quite well, as it gives you the sense of how dramatically the war changed people’s lives – even the rich and well-connected.

Obviously I can’t say much more, plot-wise. But it is very, very good, and kept me reading until far past my bedtime.

The best thing about House of Gold, apart from the character of Greta, was the descriptive language – it just felt like a total joy to read. The passages that described Greta’s blossoming garden were so gorgeous and sumptuous that it made me want to go outside and plant a load of flowers. (I didn’t. Because I’m lazy. Unlike Greta). Some of the most lovely writing I’ve read for a while. If you like the time period, I’d definitely recommend it!

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for the e-ARC!
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An amazing book which I could not put down. A family of bankers called the Goldbaums and there extended family. There wealth was incredible, the men dealt with there bank and the women loved there gardens. Thanks so much netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read a book which I probably would not have read, though on listening to women’s hour during the week the book was discussed
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A compelling story about a rich banking family not too dissimilar to the Rothschild one I would imagine. The family is all about money and power.Marriage for the sake of status and even more power. Banking outposts in many European countries. But the first world war is on its way and there are political and social shakeups. The major issue is that the family is Jewish and so their wealth is tainted...

The story focuses on Greta who is married off to her cousin Albert in England. This human angle of a story of war, wider consequences and the corruption of wealth is what makes this novel different to others. It’s Greta’s story and her fears, her anguish and the war through her eyes is what we see. Money or not, women could not do what they wanted to, and as Greta navigates her way through this as best she can, she takes the reader on an epic read.

And that’s where I find the problem with the novel - it’s very long and epic in scope and I fear that there’s just too much in one book. I read this on a kindle, so maybe that is the problem, but even so, the storylines and characters might have been easier on the page. I still feel it’s too ambitious for one novel however and would have read simpler and more effectively with a less complex tale. More about the characters themselves for example would have made it feel less mirrored to the story of the Rothschilds and made it stand out on its own.

I’m still going to read the sequel though - I hope there is one!
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A novel so enveloping, and heartbreaking, that I felt bereft when I finished it. Natasha Solomons’ plotting is first rate, and the characterisation is key to creating such a beguiling story- she quickly makes the Goldbaums feel like family. It’s easy to root for Greta and Albert, and the references to events happening on the world stage are interwoven with authenticity.

This is such a stunning book that the only way to really do it justice is to read it.
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Thanks Random House UK, Cornerstone and netgalley for this ARC.

House of Gold is more than just a saga of one family, it's the story of how war creates monsters and can destroy hope and love. But all is not just misery  there is a rainbow at the end sometimes. This novel has so many interconnecting stories inside that you will be amazed.
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House of Gold is a compelling novel about a rich banking family who are pushed to breaking point by the First World War. Greta Goldbaum is part of the Austrian branch of the Goldbaum family, who have banking outposts in the major countries of Europe. She has no choice in her marriage to Albert, her cousin from the English section of the family, despite being defiant and always looking for trouble. She finds herself moving to England, but just as she can grasp herself a little happiness through her loneliness, the war begins and threatens everything.

The novel focuses on both the personal and the larger scale: on Greta's attempts to reclaim her own life and on the situation for a wealthy Jewish family across Europe on the eve of the First World War. It is this combination that makes the book particularly gripping, as it has a human centre through Greta and also a sense of a wider impact of war, especially in a family that has members of both sides of the conflict. She is a fantastic character and her narrative shows how a woman tied by society, family, and expectation can still fight and still not always understand other women's struggles.

House of Gold was far more of a riveting read than expected: it has varied and interested characters and a sense of real human emotion, all whilst highlighting different kinds of privilege and prejudice. Even if the war setting isn't necessarily appealing, it is worth giving this novel a chance.
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It has an interesting premise and the character's are interesting to follow. I love how it shows Jewish wealth pre-war and how that changes. It deals with the stigmas' well and gives an interesting take.
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Natasha Solomons once again gives us a good solid novel for us to get stuck into.  Here we meet the Goldbaum family, and in only a couple of generations they have become major players, due to the family bank.  With the business starting when brothers from a same family are sent to different countries in Europe so family seems to come first, followed by their newly adopted countries.

Liking to keep it in the family so this story opens in 1911 when Greta, part of the Austrian side of the family finds that she has had a marriage arranged with Albert, from the English side of the family.  We follow her here and see what happens, but there is more to this tale than just a couple getting married and learning to love each other.  We follow through into the First World War as well here and seeing how the different branches of the family react and interact with each other, now they are on opposing sides.

This is full of incident, blending fact with fiction and taking us through many things that were happening, and so there is mention of the Suffragette Movement, the hatred of Jews, and how anti-Semitism was felt in different countries.  Along with this there is the politics and the work of finance which all make an absorbing background for the main story to take place on.

I must admit that I wanted to read this, but I was initially worried that this may become too much of something more for ladies, but I was very pleased to find that that was not the case.  As for a lot of women throughout the world arranged marriages are quite common and having worked in the past with someone with that background I felt that this novel dealt with the issue sympathetically and in the right way, although we see that Greta is given a chance to back out but doesn’t.

This would make for a good film, and an even better TV drama, as well as perhaps giving a certain amount of food for thought with regards to reading groups.  In all then this makes for a very satisfying read.

I was kindly provided with a review copy of this by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes.
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