In the Shadow of the Greenbrier
By: Emily Matchar
Review Score: 4 Stars
•This book starts with a bang, and I loved how it immediately sucks you into the story.
•There is a lot of suspense in this story! It is a bit slow at times, but I still wanted to know the answers to my questions, which kept me engaged.
•This is a character driven story more so than a plot driven story. I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of all the characters, but by the end of the book, I didn’t feel that anyone was superfluous to the story.
•If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy this book!
In the Shadow of the Greenbrier was kindly provided as an ARC by Netgalley and Penguin Group Putnam. Thank you for allowing me to enjoy this wonderful book!
Release Date: 3/12/24
In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is a story full of secrets. Set across the 1900’s, and from the viewpoints of multiple people in a family, we see that there is more than just one secret being kept in this small town.
It was so interesting to see all of the different viewpoints of each family member. We see their struggles and their triumphs, all while in the shadow of a resort (which also became a holding location for Axis power dignitaries during World War 2)!
This was a really engaging story, and I really enjoyed it.
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This was a great book made even more interesting to me as my husband spent quite a bit of time working in that area so I know the location well and have been to the Greenbrier. I love historical fiction that is based on true events and Emily Matches has done and an excellent job of sharing history through four generations of a Jewish family and cultural experiences of their time. Very interesting and engaging book. Thanks #NetGalley
I love a good historical fiction book. Especially set in the era of World War II. The author wove real pieces of history into the story of a third generation, family based in white sulfur Springs West Virginia. Showing their struggles, their success, and their tenacity to make a life for themselves.
With all three generations being represented in the story, it takes place over a long period of time. Each generation had its own set of challenges, and yet they all came together to tell a story that broke your heart at times, and yet warmed it at others. This is well written, and I would definitely read more from this author in the future.
I went into this book with zero expectations and was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed seeing how all of the family members were intertwined through all of the generations. Only thing that I didn’t care for was having to keep track of who was who, and in what generation of the family they were in. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys multiple POVs, multi generational family drama. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC!
West Virginia is not the place you think would have juicy secrets but this book proved me wrong! I would read anything by this author
I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction, but it’s been a while since I’ve been captivated by an HF book. In the Shadow of the Greenbrier sucked me in far more than I ever expected. The storytelling is masterful and so well tied together while managing a non-linear timeline. Despite having spent time in the Allegheny mountains, I was unaware (likely oblivious) of this part of the area’s WWII history, and I enjoyed learning more while unraveling the Zelner’s multigenerational story.
Thank you to Net Galley who provided this ARC in exchange for honest review.
In the Shadow of the Greenbrier by Emily Matchar carves out an interesting historical landscape as a backdrop to the immigrant experience of Jewish Americans. The story of the Greenbrier Resort, an opulent hidden gem amongst the dusty hollers of West Virginia paints an immediate contrast of class, and outsiders verses insiders. Matchar then goes on to introduce four generations of a Jewish family who immigrated from Lithuania, and then Poland to escape the Holocaust. Told from alternate character's point of view, we are invited into the lives of this family during four different historical periods, with the Greenbrier being the constant.
This compelling story has all the ingredients of great read. We get to witness both the internal and external conflicts of the immigrant experience alongside the life events that make up the human experience. The storylines of the patriarch, Sol, his daughter-in-law, Sylvia, her daughter Doree, and her son, Jordan are neatly interwoven and offer a variety of insights from different life stages and historical timeframes. Though the chapters exist to advance an overall storyline, a few of them were a bit trite. The characters contained original broad brushstrokes, but leaned on conventional associations and came off as a bit underdeveloped.
The overall idea of the book and the way the cast of characters interact is very well executed. The descriptions of this extravagant playground for the wealthy nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and fueled by the work of the poor, local townspeople make this a compelling read. It's always a delight to read about a little-known nugget of historical information that didn't make it into the history books but is still interesting and significant.
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for and advance copy of this engaging and entertaining read.
In the Shadow of the Greenbrier follows one Jewish family’s legacy in the small town of White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia where the legendary Greenbrier hotel hides all manner of secrets.
1909: Sol, the Zelner family patriarch immigrated from Lithuania with nothing but his father’s silver pocketwatch. After getting help from another Jewish immigrant, he starts out as a peddler before finally putting down roots in White Sulpher Springs. He figures here he will have steady business from the employees and guest of the Greenbrier being built nearby. Slowly he builds his legacy, the “Jew store” in town, and becomes an accepted fixture.
1942: Sylvia should have fled to Israel with her mother and younger brothers, but she is stubborn and was a “little fool” over a boy. Eventually she leaves Poland for America quickly falling for Louis Zelner and moving to start a life with him at his family’s store. Always the outsider, even within the Jewish community, for not being American, Sylvia is lonely, and her marriage isn’t what she imagined. When Germans and Italian diplomats are held at the Greenbrier, she wants nothing to do with them. These are the people who hate her family, but one man, Jack, makes her think otherwise and begin to question her future.
1958: Doree just wants to fit in in her small town, go to college to be a math teacher, and marry a good Jewish man continuing what her grandpa Sol calls the “eternal chain”. When the AV repairman for the Greenbrier stops by her family store to stock up on household sundries, she is intrigued. He seems awfully smart for a TV repairman, and he is the first person to notice how she seems to be selling herself short. Like her younger brother Alan, she begins to question what is really going on with the new addition to the Greenbriar.
1992: Jordan is the quintessential good kid. Unlike his wild twin sister, Jordan always does what is expected of him. It’s finally paying off with a job at the Washington Post mostly covering city meetings. When an anonymous tip lands on his desk, he quickly packs up and heads to the Greenbriar. His mother, Doree, is of no help, only pleading for him to stay in D.C., but Jordan knows there’s a story there. Doree never shared much about her past, and her adamant refusal to open up, has him curious to know more.
It’s hard to believe this multigenerational saga is a debut. Emily Matchar does an outstanding job of telling of one Jewish family’s experience facing relentless discrimination in a small town. She explores how each generation’s trauma is passed on, and its effects on their relationships. Her research is evident and the whole idea of what Jordan uncovers is amazing to me.
Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Group-Putnam, and of course the author Emily Matchar for the advanced copy of the book. In The Shadow of the Greenbrier is out on March 12th. All opinions are my own.
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read the advanced copy of Emily Matchar's newest work.
Told through various family members over decades, it is the saga of a Jewish family living in the backwoods of West Virginia. This deals with prejudice, race, poverty and a family secret so powerful it takes decades to unravel.
"Four generations. One remarkable hotel. Countless secrets.
Nestled in the hills of West Virginia lies White Sulphur Springs, home to the Greenbrier Resort. Long a playground for presidents and film stars, the Greenbrier has its own gravitational pull. Over ten decades, four generations of the Zelner family must grapple with their place in its shadow...and within their own family.
In 1942, young mother Sylvia is desperate to escape her stifling marriage, especially when it means co-running Zelner's general store with her husband. When the Greenbrier is commandeered for use as a luxury prison, Sylvia finds her fidelity strained and her heart on the line.
Seventeen years later, Sylvia's daughter, Doree, struggles to fit in, eagerly awaiting the day she'll leave for college and meet a nice Jewish boy. But when a handsome stranger comes to town and her brother Alan's curiosity puts him and Sylvia at risk, Doree is torn between loyalty and desire.
An immersive family saga rich with historical detail, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier explores the inevitable clash between past and future and the extraordinary moments in ordinary lives."
I want to stay at Greenbrier.
Standing ovation....!!!! In the light of Kristin Hannah's nightingale and the four winds. Ms Emily Matchar is a true story teller...WOW!! what a debut, im floored for lack of words of how and where to start with this book. Secretly reading it slowly because i just didnt want it to end.
We see a multigeneration family, starting with Sol immigrating from lithuania, then his son's wife Slyvia, from poland, then on to Doree her daughter and lastly Jordan; Doree's son who brings to the light all the hidden secrets. Ms Matchar takes us on a journey through their lives, their loves, hardships and finally comes full circle with all their hidden revelations!
I cant wait for the world to see the genius of this new story teller on the scene and im looking forward to all her future books!!!!!
Ms Matchar Solid 5 stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was a good story of four generations surrounding the Greenbrier, a resort for the rich and famous. For some reason, I had a hard time keeping all of the characters straight and what was going on – a journalist in present day is trying to find out wat was built underground in the 40’s at the resort – thoughts were of a place to house Nazis, putting people who were trying to stay out of the news about the War – the basic story was good but it was hard to follow. Thank you NetGalley and Penquin PubLishing.
"In the Shadow of the Greenbrier" by Emily Matchar is a captivating family saga that draws you into the world of White Sulphur Springs and the iconic Greenbrier Resort. Matchar skillfully weaves together the lives of four generations of the Zelner family, creating a tapestry of emotions, relationships, and the enduring legacy of a place that holds both enchantment and challenge.
What makes this book truly special is its rich historical detail and how it explores the interplay between the past and the future. The author's vivid descriptions transport you to a bygone era, and you can't help but be immersed in the world she has created.
While it is a little slow to start, it was a satisfying read and will undoubtedly be a hit with fans of historical literature.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.
This books was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The beginning was slow and a little tricky to follow as the chapters alternate point of view between four Jewish characters who are related - and at different points in their lives, mainly from the early 1900s to the 1990s. The characters live "in the shadow of the Greenbrier" a huge resort in West Virginia that attracted Hollywood stars and later served as a prison for Italian and German diplomats during WW2. We follow the characters as they fall in and out love, deal with antisemitism both here and in Europe, and as they raise families of their own.
About a third of the way in the story picked up for me and I didn't want to put it down. I did think the big "mystery" was a little anticlimatic but that's ok since I don't love really sad/scary stories anyway.
Would make a good book club I think.
poignant, well done historical fiction about a hotel. i was expecting more horror / darkness from name and description but it was fantastic
In the Shadow of the Greenbrier follows 4 story lines of one family, spanning across the 1900s. Part of the storyline were extremely enjoyable. But the ending fell flat and was a little bit of a let down. Not what I was expecting. There was also a lot more language & open door scenes than I expected there to be.
Wow! Matcher is a new author to me and she did not disappoint! The history that she so e in to this book is amazing and so very relevant. West Virginia came alive with this saga and the generations of Zelner women. Highly recommend if you love watching a family evolve over the years.
I will try to come back to this book later, because I think that I will like it when I am in the right headspace. Currently, I am going through a very difficult time, and need to read something that can help me get through.
The author did an amazing job following different family members through different time periods. She tied all the plots together I nicely. The book centers around the Greenbrier. The Zelner’s are Jewish and open a general store in the town where the Greenbrier was built. The author has a gift for describing scenes so you can feel the raw emotions and imagine the settings. Several twists and turns. Really enjoyed this book, highly recommend.
I received an advanced review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is a multi-generational story of a Jewish family who ended up settling and running a convince store in a small town of West Virginia, White Sulfur Springs. The story follows four characters, each from the next generation, and their their journey to, or back to, White Sulfur Springs. The town is home to the famous Greenbrier hotel, which is a resort known for their famous guests that range from celebrities to presidents. Surrounding the hotel is a family mystery that slowly unfolds throughout the book to uncover secrets hidden for years within the own Zelner family.
This book takes some time to get into, but I did enjoyed the book. It was very interesting reading about the Greenbrier and the struggles of a Jewish family in America during the WWII era. I have never heard of the Greenbrier hotel prior to picking up this book, even though I live in DC. I would definitely be interested in making a trip there now to check out the famous hotel.
Keeping track of the different timelines and character's were easier once I had written them down for reference, but can be hard to keep up with in the beginning of the book. The plot is also fairly slow to begin with, but picks up in the later half of the book. I guessed what the mystery was fairly on so I didn't consider it a page turner to discover the secret's of the Zelner family but I still thought it was a good and interesting read. The characters, the struggles they faced as Jews, their decisions, and how those decisions impacted themselves and their children, and their children's children was interesting and made the book a good read.
Overall, I think I would rate the book a 3.5/4 stars. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to review an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.