House of Gold by Natasha Solomons

Publication Information: Pre-Pub Kindle edition, October 23, 2018 by G.P. Putnam sons. Pre-pub courtesy of First to Read. Originally published by Cornerstone Books, May 3, 2018.

Summary: Nicknamed the House of Gold, the Goldbaum’s Palace in Vienna, Austria in the early 20th century is an extraordinary display of wealth. The white limestone edifice trimmed in gold gilt, inside and out, gleams in the sunlight. At night, electric lights, a fairly new innovation, shine through the windows like beacons. The Goldbaums eat the finest foods and throw opulent parties. Beggars and street urchins feed themselves from the Goldbaums’ scraps.

The Goldbaums are a family of powerful bankers. With offices in the major cities in Europe, they hold enormous power and wealth. Governments come to them for loans. And yet, they are not completely trusted by other powerful banking families. The Goldbaums are outsiders because they are Jewish.House of Gold

The patriarch of the Vienna family needs an heir to continue the family name and tradition. He has two children; a son, Otto, and a daughter, Greta. Otto is expected to learn and take over the business. Greta is expected to provide the heir. An arrangement is made for her to marry Albert Goldbaum, a distant cousin.

Greta chafes at this. An impetuous, impish free spirit from early girlhood, Greta refuses to fit the mold of societal expectations. Albert, much more conservative, doesn’t know what to do with his wife and simply ignores her with barely concealed distaste.

As the world starts changing around them and the foundations of the old ways of life begin cracking and shifting, Greta and Albert begin to find common ground.  But war breaks out and they are once again pulled apart, their lives irrevocably changed.

Comments: House of Gold is a gentle, genteel family saga with memorable, fully-realized characters. It also drives home the harsh realities of poverty, war and anti-Semitism. I became increasingly emotionally involved in the book as I read—much more than I expected at its beginning.

Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction and family sagas. I think this book would also make a great period piece film or a Masterpiece-style mini-series.