Desert Isle Keeper
House of Gold
House of Gold is a sweeping family saga that takes place during the Great War. It’s lush and atmospheric, filled with tons of small details that really bring the historical setting to life. In short, it turned out to be everything I love about historical fiction, and it’s a book I’m beyond pleased to recommend to fans of this particular time period.
The Goldbaums are undoubtedly one of the most powerful families in Europe. They are the bankers and confidants of government officials, military leaders, and other extremely wealthy people. They are the kind of people who seem to know nothing about sorrow and deprivation, as their massive amount of money insulates them from much of the unpleasantness faced by the middle and lower classes.
Greta has grown up knowing she’ll one day leave her home in Austria and take her place as the wife of her cousin Albert, who belongs to the English branch of the family. It’s the furthest thing from a love match, but Greta is resigned to her fate. At least, that’s what she wants her parents to think. In actuality, Greta longs for something more, but she knows it will be virtually impossible to forge her own path in life. It is, after all, her duty to see that the Goldbaum’s power and influence continue to grow, and what better way to do that than to join two branches of the family together in marriage?
As one might imagine, Greta is powerless to stop her impending nuptials, and she ends up moving to England to wed her cousin as political unrest begins to sweep across Europe. Suddenly, the Goldbaum’s money becomes incapable of offering Greta the kind of protection she’s always known. She is shunned by Albert’s friends and neighbors, who view her as the enemy. It soon becomes apparent that Greta and Albert will have to pull together if they have any hope of surviving the coming war.
Meanwhile, Greta’s brother Otto goes off to war to fight for Austria. He and Greta have always been close, but they are now on opposite sides of the war, and this causes an irreparable rift in their relationship, something that wounds Greta deeply. Now, Greta feels cut off from everyone but Albert, and she’s not sure how to cope with this.
The Goldbaum family is loosely based on the Rothschilds, a family I knew nothing about before picking up this book. It’s obvious Ms. Solomons did a great deal of research into the lives of the Rothschilds, but I am unable to speak with any authority on the accuracy of her depiction. All I know is I was immediately swept up in this multi-layered story, and I hated to put the book down for any reason.
Greta is an incredibly relatable heroine. At first, I wondered if I would be able to fully embrace her since she seems kind of pampered and bratty when the story opens, but I needn’t have worried. She matures quickly, and I found myself really pulling for her before too long. I applaud Ms. Solomon’s ability to create a flawed but lovable heroine who felt completely authentic.
Books about war are often quite violent, but that isn’t the case here. The reader is definitely aware of the horrible things going on, but the hardships of life during this turbulent time are deftly woven into the story in a way that doesn’t come off as over the top. Ms. Solomons doesn’t fall into the trap of filling the pages with unnecessary descriptions of violence, but neither does she sugar-coat things for her readers. She manages to strike just the right balance, making House of Gold a story that can be enjoyed by readers who aren’t normally drawn to novels that center around war.
This was my first experience with Ms. Solomons’ writing, but it certainly will not be my last. I am eager to see what else she may have written, and I plan to lose myself in another one of her stellar stories at my earliest convenience.