House of Gold

House of Gold

by Natasha Solomons

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the New York Times bestselling author of The House at Tyneford, an epic family saga about a headstrong Austrian heiress who will be forced to choose between the family she's made and the family that made her at the outbreak of World War I.


The start of a marriage. The end of a dynasty.

It's 1911 and Greta Goldbaum is forced to move from glittering Vienna to damp England to wed Albert, a distant cousin. The Goldbaum family are one of the wealthiest in the world, with palaces across Europe, but as Jews and perpetual outsiders they know that strength lies in family. At first defiant and lonely, slowly Greta softens toward Albert, and as the wild paths and untamed beauty of Greta's new English garden begin to take shape, so too does their love begin to blossom. But World War I looms and even the influential Goldbaums cannot alter its course. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find itself on opposing sides, and Greta will have to choose: the family she's created, or the one she left behind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735212985
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/20/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 130,691
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

A screenwriter and novelist, Natasha Solomons lives in Dorset, England, with her husband and two children. She is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, including The House at Tyneford and The Song of Hartgrove Hall.

Read an Excerpt

1911

A man's status can be judged by the number of his bedding plants- ten thousand for a squire, twenty thousand for a baronet, thirty thousand for an earl and fifty thousand for a duke, but sixty thousand for a Goldbaum.

Often-quoted saying

Vienna, April

The Goldbaum Palace was made of stone, not gold. Children walking along the Heugasse, buttoned smartly into their coats and hand in hand with Nanny or Mutti, were invariably disappointed. They'd been promised a palace belonging to the prince of the Jews, spun out of ivory and gold and presumably studded with jewels, and here instead was simply a vast house built of ordinary white stone. Though it was the very finest limestone in the whole of Austria, and had been transported from the Alps to Vienna along a railway line constructed thanks to a loan from the Goldbaum Bank, and hauled by an engine and train owned by the Goldbaum Railway Company, painted resplendently in the family colors of blue and gold and adorned with the family crest: five goldfinches alighting on a sycamore branch. (Wits liked to refer to the coat of arms as "the birds in the money tree.") Inside, the great hall was gilded from the wainscot to the highest point of the domed roof, so that even on gloomy days the light it reflected brimmed with sunshine. Such was the power and wealth of the Goldbaums that on dull days, it was said, they hired the sun, just for themselves.

At night every window was lit with electric light and the house shone out like a great ocean liner buoyed along the Vienna streets. Sometimes at the grandest parties they released hundreds of goldfinches into the hall, so that they warbled and fluttered above the guests. (The birds were accompanied by an extra two dozen maids whose sole task for the evening was to wipe up the tiny spatters of bird shit the moment they appeared on the marble floor; there were limits, it appeared, even to the power of the Goldbaums.) All the same, little happened in the capital and beyond without their say-so, and even less without their knowing it. The emperor himself despised and endured the Goldbaums like inclement weather. There was nothing that could be done. They owned his debt.

The palace on Heugasse was merely the expression of their influence. The real source of their wealth was a small, unobtrusive building on the Ringstrasse. Behind the black door lay the House of Gold: the Austrian branch of the family bank. The Goldbaum men were bankers, while the Goldbaum women married Goldbaum men and produced Goldbaum children. Yet the family didn't consider themselves solely a dynasty of bankers, but also a dynasty of collectors.

The Goldbaums liked to collect beautiful things: exquisite Louis XIV furniture; paintings by Rembrandt, da Vinci and Vermeer; and then the great manors, ch‰teaux and castles to put them in. They collected jewelry, FabergŽ eggs, automobiles, racehorses-and the obligations of prime ministers. Greta Goldbaum followed in the family tradition. She collected trouble. This was the trait that Otto Goldbaum most valued in his sister. Before her arrival, his mother had visited the nursery, wallowing in state on a chair reserved especially for this purpose, and, with the assistance of his favorite nanny, explained that in a few weeks' time he would be joined by a little brother or sister. They sipped hot chocolate from a miniature china tea service adorned with the family crest in twenty-four-karat gold, and nibbled tiny slices of Sachertorte dabbed with swirls of blue and pink, ordered especially from the grand hotel. Otto listened in silence, watching with considerable suspicion the rise and fall of the baroness's vast belly. And yet when, four weeks later, Greta appeared in the nursery with her own fleet of starched nursemaids, he was not put out in the least. For the first time in his three years Otto had an ally. Greta certainly seemed to belong more fully to him than to the parents who lived downstairs. The baroness was considered an extremely dedicated mother by visiting the new baby almost every day, while Otto was still summoned to luncheon with the baron and baroness at least twice each week. He listened to the cries and gurgles of his sister through the walls and, when the nurses slept, crept in to lie on the floor of her night nursery. He did this so often that the nurses gave up either berating him or carrying him back to his own bed and set up a little cot for Otto beside her crib.

Greta was not a favorite with the nurses. They could never make her look smart for Mama during her visits. Her hair would not lie flat, like Otto's, but popped up around her head in disordered curls. The rubbed patch at the back, like a monk's round tonsure, did not grow back until she was nearly two. She usually had a cold. As she grew older the maids delighted in telling her, "If you weren't a Goldbaum, you'd be given a proper hiding." Greta told Otto in that case she was frightfully glad she was a Goldbaum, but she felt terribly sorry for all the children who weren't, as it seemed that they must spend much of their time being beaten for petty crimes (melting soap on the nursery fire to make modeling clay; hiding unwanted food at the back of the toy cupboard until it was found weeks later, festering; removing the saddle from the rocking horse and fixing it to Papa's favorite bloodhound and riding the dog around the tulip beds). Greta was frequently sent to bed with nothing to eat but bread and milk. None of this mattered. She had Otto.

His character ran counter to his sister's. Where Greta was impulsive, Otto was careful. She talked and he listened. His hair was perfectly smooth, his part immaculately combed. Where Greta was in constant motion, Otto possessed a stillness that often unsettled his contemporaries, although he did not consider himself quiet, since his thoughts were so loud, his mind always restless and busy. It took Otto time to reach a decision, but once he had done so, he acted decisively. He was of average height and slim, but he fenced and boxed with skill, taking pleasure in the exercise and in anticipating his opponent's game. He considered both pursuits to contain the perfect blend of brutality and elegance.

As Greta grew, so did the trouble. She borrowed Otto's clothes and disappeared for a picnic beside the river, where she was discovered sharing a cigarillo with a pair of lieutenants. She persuaded Otto to take her to the university so that she could listen to one of the astronomy lectures he attended. Otto decided that she looked like a bird of paradise roosting among the thrushes, in her bright blue coat and hat, sitting amid a hundred men in brown and gray suits. He asked her if she liked the lecture. "Adored it. Didn't understand a word." Greta went every day for a week, saying it helped her sleep magnificently. She secured clandestine lessons on the trumpet and became rather good, before the baroness discovered her and put a stop to it. Piano, harp or, at a push, the violin was deemed sufficiently demure. Wind instruments were far too louche; all that work with the embouchure. The very word made the baroness blush. Otto developed a spontaneous interest in the trumpet. Another tutor was procured. Otto surreptitiously shared his lessons with his sister and pretended the practice was his. Greta, however, lost interest. Trumpet voluntaries were only fun when they were illicit. Otto accepted that one of his tasks in life was to help his sister out of mischief. For twenty years this had been a source of pride and pleasure to him, and of only occasional exasperation.

If anyone had asked Greta if she wanted to marry Albert Goldbaum, she would have said no, certainly not. But no one did ask. Not even her mother. They asked her all sorts of other things. Which blooms would she like in her bouquet? Roses or lilies? Did she want ten bridesmaids or twelve? Greta replied that she was quite indifferent to the number of bridesmaids. Her only stipulation was an assortment of footmen carrying white umbrellas. Her mother paused for a moment. ÒSupposing it doesnÕt rain?Ó ÒOf course it will rain,Ó Greta replied, ÒIÕm going to England.Ó

Greta knew that Baroness Emmeline was tormented by the prospect of appearing inappropriately attired. Three cloaks were to be made to match Greta's wedding dress: one of Arctic fur, one of the finest lamb's wool and another of silk and lace. The baroness insisted that a lady must always have a choice and be prepared for the unexpected, in matters pertaining to the wardrobe at the very least. She invariably traveled with at least three pairs of spare shoes in the trunk of the automobile: a pair of stout leather boots, should the weather turn; a pair of elegant shoes to change into afterward; and a pair of satin slippers, just in case. In case of what, Greta never could ascertain.

She offered no further opinion on the wedding preparations. She acquiesced to every suggestion with such pointed apathy that the baroness ceased to consult her. This suited Greta perfectly. She visited her friends and drank coffee, and changed the subject if any of them were tactless enough to raise the topic of her looming nuptials. The wedding was an unpleasantness to be endured, and for a while it was sufficiently far away that she could pretend it was not happening at all. It stalked her, though, through her dreams. Her fear was indistinct and sinister, something nameless to be dreaded. Only it did have a name. Albert.

"He probably doesn't want to marry you, either," said Johanna Schwartzschild one morning as they sat in the orangery, taking coffee and sweets, some weeks before the wedding. "Perhaps he's in love with someone else. Either way, he might just not fancy it."

Greta set down her cup of coffee in surprise and stared at Johanna, who started to color, perhaps wondering if she'd pushed it a little far and this was why she was not one of the twelve bridesmaids. But Greta was not offended, simply intrigued. Up until then she'd considered only her feelings on the matter, and had taken all the reluctance and resentment as her own. Of course it wasn't pleasant to think that someone else was considering the prospect of marrying you with horror and revulsion, but, she reasoned, it wasn't personal. Albert didn't dislike her; he couldn't. He didn't know her. But poor Albert probably didn't think much of marrying some stranger simply because she was his first cousin twice removed and had the right surname. Now he became, in her mind, "Poor Albert" and she began to think of him almost fondly. She rang the bell. A maidservant appeared.

"More coffee, FrŠulein?"

"No, thank you, Helga. Tell my mother that I've changed my mind. I don't want roses or lilies. I would like gardenias for my bouquet."

For the first time since her mother had summoned her to her dressing room and informed her that she was to marry Albert and move to England, Greta began to read English novels once again. Her English conversation lessons had still taken place for three hours each morning with the apologetic and sweaty-palmed Mr. Neville-Jones, but in a silent and futile gesture of displeasure sheÕd set aside English literature for French and Italian. Now, softening toward Poor Albert, she penned herself a firm reading list. Dickens she enjoyed immensely. The hustle and stink of London sounded enchanting, compared to the museum hush and desiccated formality of Vienna. On the other hand, Jane Austen she couldnÕt get along with at all. There were far too many young ladies far too eager to get married. Mr. Darcy sounded like a bore, and Mr. Bingley worse. She hoped that Poor Albert was nothing like either of them.

Then she discovered Jane Eyre. Oh, the thrill of being a governess and being entirely dependent on oneself. The danger and wonder of being alone in the world. Jane Eyre might have been a governess dreaming of becoming a bride, but Greta Goldbaum was the bride dreaming of becoming a governess.

As Greta walked through the park arm in arm with Otto she saw that the crocuses were erupting beneath the aspen trees, regiments of purple and shining yellow in imperial shades, like thousands of miniature soldiers. There were only tiny patches of snow remaining, shoveled into wet heaps the color of sodden newspapers.

A fluttering notice pinned to a tree caught her eye and she paused to read it. Greta liked these notes. The trees in the park were full of them, like a species of white bird. They were messages from another world-the ordinary one, where people struggled and drank schnapps straight from the bottle, and ate schnitzel and sausage for supper, and owned an ordinary number of trousers. (Greta estimated this number to be something between three and fifty pairs.) The notices on the trees were for lost dogs, rooms to rent, or ladies of low regard advertising their services. The most desperate were the most intriguing: a violinist offering lessons in exchange for a decent meal and a bucket of coal.

To Greta, it was the ordinary and mundane that contained the sheen of glamour. The aura of her name followed her everywhere like a gleaming shadow; she could never escape from its glow. People who were not kind in general were invariably kind to her, or so she was frequently informed by her friends. She suspected that her view of the world was distorted, as if everything she consumed was sprinkled liberally with sugar. She longed to taste life unsweetened.

It was better for Otto, she thought, a little resentfully. His misadventures weren't merely tolerated but encouraged. He'd been permitted to spend six entire months at the Imperial Observatory on the border with Russia, where the winds gusting through the great forests were chilled with the enemy's breath. He'd seen not only stars and comet tails, but Cossacks riding through the plains separating the two great empires, the handkerchiefs covering their faces red and blue in the moonlight. Or so she presumed; Otto had been disappointingly vague on the details in his letters home. There had been far too much about the mathematics of observational stars, and far too little about bandits and Cossacks, or the legendary eastern Jews who thrived in the border swamps and had long red beards, flaming out like Moses's burning bush.

Everything had become imbued with sudden meaning: the silver coffeepot and pats of butter stamped with tiny birds were no longer merely objects, but ciphers. Earlier Greta had remained as the maid arranged the baronessÕs hair-something sheÕd not done since she was a child, watching the maid brush and brush the long silvering hair, sleek as the tail of a weasel. Then it was wound round and round, pinned neatly into a smooth wheel. The ivory brush sat on the dressing table and Greta looked at it, knowing that the days of such intimacy were nearly over. When she left the baroness to her coffee, she felt a pang of unexpected tenderness.

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House of Gold 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
CharJones2525 9 months ago
I really wanted to love this fictive saga featuring a Jewish family based on the Rothschilds starting just before WWI. But too much detail bogged down the story of Greta, an Austrian heiress, who marries Albert, a Brit, and moves to England as this conflagration upends the world. 3/5 Pub Date 23 Oct 2018 Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #HouseOfGold #NetGalley
Dani_the_Bookaholic More than 1 year ago
Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Group Ptunam, and author Natasha Solomons for giving me a copy of HOUSE OF GOLD in exchange for my honest opinion. ~~~ This review was originally posted on my blog: www.danithebookaholic.com ~~~ Reading historical fiction can be difficult if you’re not in the right mindset, and if you’re not a fan of history. It’s one genre that I tend to shy away from because I’m not interested in history. I know that ‘they’ say that the only way to progress in the future is to learn and understand the past, but I find it difficult to look back. History is filled with dates and politics, things that often just confuse and bore me. So when I do take the time to pick up book on historical fiction, or even a classic, I have to go into it with an open mind, and be willing to do some research myself just to make sure I understand the timeline. When all of this is done, I have found that I usually end up thoroughly enjoying the book and I find myself setting it on my “favorites” shelf. Funny how that happens. History buffs and horticulture fans will both find House of Gold an enjoyable read. A good portion of the beginning of the book is based around Greta and her mother-in-law, Lady Goldbaum’s, love of plants and the gardens in which they grow them. There is a lot of information on planting seasons and care for the plants, as well as medicinal purposes behind some of them. While historical facts of clothing, estates, and knowledge of the every day was shown in the beginning, the second half of the book is where the majority of the historical points come into the plot: knowledge of the movements of World Ward I; understanding of how money played major roles; and how Jews, such as the Goldbaum’s, would be treated. I made connections with House of Gold mainly when it made me think of some of those books on my “favorites” shelf. House of Gold has the glitz of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the sense of duty of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and an impression of urgency and loss like Ian McEwan’s Atonement. There is even one part where I sensed a connection to The Awakening by Kate Chopin. While I did find myself a little bored along the way, I took that as a personal preference of not enjoying historical facts, and not as a sign of a boring story. Natasha Solomons’ writing was intriguing and informative and gave life to a world I otherwise would know nothing about. And remember that “favorites” shelf I mention a time or two? Well, Natasha Solomons’ House of Gold has earned the right to be on that shelf! From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix. —Dani Dani's Score out of 5: (5/5)
Michelle_V More than 1 year ago
I really loved this historical novel about an Austrian heiress who is forced to choose between her husbands family and her own who are on opposite sides of the war. I love the way the author described everything from the characters clothes, scenery and the mansions. This is a well written book with well defined characters and a beautiful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not terribly engaged. So wanted to really like. The setting: "an epic family saga about a headstrong [Jewish] Austrian heiress [Greta Goldbaum] who will be forced to choose between the family she's made and the family that made her at the outbreak of World War I." Starts in Vienna in 1911, when Greta is 21 and confronted with an arranged marriage to her British cousin, Albert. All about family --hers, his, and eventually, theirs. Supposedly based in part on the Rothschilds. What I liked: learning about some of the finite details of the trappings of wealth and privilege--private railway cars, orchestras, and so on. What detracted--none of the characters were terribly compelling, too many subplots. I just didn't care enough. Otto and Karl were sort of interesting; I figured early on that Karl was gong to have a larger role than when initially presented [points off for telegraphing the obvious]. Same with Clement--though for all his faults [eating and gambling most prominent, I liked him]. Some descriptions--a very few humorous. "..ostrich plume on Greta's picture hat, which moved as though it were trying to conduct the room each time she turned her head." "...Otto found himself transfixed by the drip on the end of Lord Goldbaum's nose, wondering precisely when it would fall." What I learned: --what a calendar house is--very interesting--look it up--as I did. How banking intersected with financing war. Herbs and medicinal uses [knew some]. So, I plowed through it because it was written well enough. BUT.
JennaBookish More than 1 year ago
House of Gold is a sweeping family drama that follows the fictional Goldbaum family in the years leading up to and during WWI. I read a lot of historical fiction, but I've read very little set in this particular time period, so I was excited to get into this book. Greta, a member of the Austrian branch of the Goldbaum family, is the main focus, although the novel does delve into the perspectives of other people in her life. The cast of characters was one of the main strengths of the novel, and it was a very character-driven narrative. Greta is gregarious and free-spirited. She is getting ready to marry Albert, a distant cousin and a member of the English branch of the family when we join her story. (Goldbaum family tradition involves intermarrying to keep their vast wealth within the family.) Greta has never met Albert when her marriage with him is arranged by the family and feels extremely ambivalent about the pairing. She doesn't want to marry a stranger but is afraid of going against her family's wishes. While I was very invested in Greta and her story, the pacing took away some of my enjoyment of this novel. The way Solomons dabbled into the stories of other relatives occasionally made the story feel somewhat unfocused. The aside about Greta's cousin's gambling debts, for example, did not add much to the story. (It did move the story forward as a plot point, but it was not necessary to go into his perspective to do this.) These sections really just felt like they bogged down the pace. We have no reason to care about this character as he is a relatively minor one, so his obviously impending breaking point doesn't actually introduce any tension to the story. Conversely, other parts of the story seem to be entirely skipped over. Greta is pregnant with her first child and the next thing I knew, she was in labor with her second. Aside from just skipping over a big chunk of time, it pains me to think of the character development that could have been explored in that time frame. Greta is young and a bit flighty when we meet her. She is deeply changed by the war and by motherhood, but we don't get to see any of those changes happening; we simply skip over from young, newlywed Greta to Greta as a mother of two. Great's brother Otto is also a major character, although he is largely separate from her throughout the story. His story largely focuses on the war and some very interesting power dynamics come into play in this context. The Goldbaum family is rich beyond measure, but also Jewish in a time of rising antisemitism. The concept of wealth countering relatively little social privilege as well as instances in which it cannot do so play a large role throughout the novel. Otto's story, despite his wealthy background, is ultimately tragic. Overall, I enjoyed House of Gold despite my misgivings about the pacing. I became very invested in some of the characters, I liked the importance of the family's Jewish identity in the novel, and the family's personal affairs were balanced well with what was happening on a worldwide scale. Readers who enjoy family dramas and historical fiction set during war time may find this a worthwhile read. My thanks to Netgalley and G.P. Putman's Sons for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher.
SevenAcreBooks More than 1 year ago
House of Gold is a rich and sweeping tale of the Goldbaum family during the early 20th century. Wealthy, beautiful, and full of rich-people problems, the Goldbaums are one of the wealthiest families in the world with the ability to make or break entire countries. With all of that power comes impossibly high expectations of all members of the family. Greta, daughter to the head of the Austrian house is set to marry her cousin Albert. Not only has she never met Albert, she has no say in the matter. Greta’s big brother Otto is brought up to lead his family and take his father’s place at the bank and has just as much say in his future as his little sister. As the years pass, Greta learns to tolerate her marriage, fall in love with her husband, become a mother, and learns the strength to survive a war. With her family’s money being both a blessing and a burden, Greta lives her life as close to her own terms as possible. This is one of those vast, multi-layered stories that is great for when you want to really immerse yourself for days on end. The e-book version of House of Gold that I read clocked in at nearly 450 pages and takes you all the way from the wedding planning of Greta and Albert’s wedding to the birth of their second child. The detail given to the dresses, dinner menus, furnishings, and gardens is incredible. And the rich people problems-it’s a wonderful escape. Greta frets for months on how to plan a garden. Who to hire, what to plant, the significance of every little stone-all while the Goldbaum kitchens are handing out food to the poor and starving. There is a side story of Karl, a young man who lives in the sewers of the city and stays as close to the Goldbaum mansion as possible because the food they give away is the best in the country. House of Gold also gives us insight into high-society arranged marriages. I find the separate bedrooms, lack of communication, and the way they act more like a business partnership than a life partnership absolutely fascinating. I really enjoyed this one. If you want to get lost for days in someone else’s life, I highly recommend this one. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
House of Gold By Natasha Solomons Starting in 1911 through WW1, this book follows the saga of Greta Goldbaum. Goldbaum is not just her surname but a financial empire of Jewish Bankers across Europe. Greta is not quite the Austrian debutant that her family wishes her to be but she dutifully marries her distant cousin in England. Marriage alone is challenging but combined with the lack of love, even like in their marriage Albert and Greta struggle. As their relationship develops talk of war stresses their budding relationship. War is pending and the family grows into the focus of drama putting the different houses of Goldbaum on different sides of the conflict. I want to say that I liked House of Gold, but there were so many things that were maddening about this book that I cannot. This book started out slow for me, however, I was willing to oblige. Midway I wondered what point was going to be made to make this book. The characters were developing and their personal dynamics were changing leaving many valid options for the outcome. Instead a bit further in reading there is a black hole from 1914-1917 that apparently the characters have a turning point that is significant but not worthy of making it into the book. I had to go back twice to make sure I did not miss a section. Let’s skip to the end where I felt the author just stopped writing and nothing seemed to come to closure. I liked the historical aspects as well as the cultural dynamics but this book was more frustrating than enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Natasha Solomons’ House of Gold tells the story of the incredibly successful and wealthy Goldbaum family, spread across the countries of Europe, running one of the most respected financial institutions of the early twentieth century. The primary focus of the story is Greta, of the Austrian Goldbaums, and how her life changes after she enters an arranged marriage with her English Goldbaum cousin, Albert. Solomons does a good job of painting a picture of a relationship that does not have its foundation in love, and how the couple must find a way to be happy together. And just when they do find a way to make it work, World War I begins and not only are the couple separated, but the tight-knit Goldbaum family begins to splinter along country lines. This doesn’t necessarily have a traditional story arc, but is enjoyable for the perspective it gives on how war divided families in Europe, how much of a struggle it could be to be Jewish, or regarded as German, and how vital it was to so many people in Europe that America enter the war from the viewpoint of a family dealing with the consequences of strife.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
The Goldbaum family is known the world over in the banking industry. Their wealth is astounding. Greta is from the Austrian Goldbaums. She has an arranged marriage to her cousin, Albert Goldbaum. This is not exactly what she wants out of life and the marriage has a terrible start. These two eventually learn to love each other and create a nice life. Then WWI enters their world and their lives change forever. Greta is a strong-willed woman! And if you follow this blog, you know those are my favorite characters. The start of her marriage is just about her undoing. However, she is determined to overcome and make her life better. I love her resilience and her intelligence. She is the character this novel could not do without. This first part of this book has a lot of gardening and a large amount of business dealings. The last half of the book is much more enjoyable, in my opinion. It is full of action and emotion. This story is full of historical detail and rich with information. I enjoyed this time period. I am usually a WWII reader so, I relished reading about WWI. And isn’t this cover fantastic! I received this novel from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for a honest review
SilversReviews More than 1 year ago
Greta had been a handful since birth with her governesses explaining that if she had been anything but a Goldbaum, she would be out on the street. The Goldbaums always married distant cousins to keep the name, their power, and their wealth secure. Greta was to marry her second cousin from London whom she never met, but she was fine with it because she was hoping this would take her away from her daunting mother and all her rules about proper behavior. As I was reading, it seemed as if I were living in a fairy tale. Every whim and want was satisfied for Greta and her family. The description of the mansions was unbelievable, and I laughed when one of the servants confessed she needed a map to navigate the home. The writing style and the detail Ms. Solomons uses draws you into the story even though some of it is filled with politics and business dealings. She adds enough family drama and interest of the era to keep you reading, but it did get tedious at times. The characters were definitely depicted as true to this era and class, and they grew on you as you read. Some you grew to like and others you grew to wonder why they acted as they did. If you enjoy reading about aristocrats, politics, European history in the late 1800's/early1900's, war, and the non-public side of the wealthy, HOUSE OF GOLD will be of interest. The book was well written, but was a bit long. The characters - especially Greta - made the book. She was a feisty, strong woman. 4/5 This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
wjane More than 1 year ago
House of Gold by Natasha Solomons is a book of historical fiction, about a Jewish family whose wealth and influence is worldwide. The novel is set a few years before and during World War I and tells the story of a family‘s life. Natasha Solomons makes history real with her characters, settings, and situations. The author writes so the reader may experience the passion, love, sorrow, beliefs, heartbreak and hope. I especially appreciate that Solomons does not try to make historical characters fit into the world today but tells the story as it might have happened in the correct time period. My thanks to the author, the publisher and netgalley for making this book available to me to read and review. JaneW cassiesbooks
Persephonereads More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Cornerstone Digital for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this novel for an honest review. Pre World War 1 Europe and the Goldbaum family are an extremely wealthy banking dynasty. Greta Goldbaum from Vienna does not really want to marry her English cousin Albert she does it anyway as that is what is expected and though Greta is a defiant girl she also knows that the sometimes you have to do what is expected. Greta is a fun, gregarious girl while Albert is a serious and quiet man. This novel takes us up through most of World War 1 and we follow the family through it all. With the war brewing we see how anti semitism began to take control of certain parts of Europe. A sweeping tale with Greta at the center this was a novel that I could not put down and though it was a bit long I managed to read it in 24 hours. There were a few slower parts but the characters and storylines were enough to keep me hanging in there. This is the first Natasha Solomons novel that I have read and I enjoyed it immensely. I will be reading more books by her!
BettyTaylor More than 1 year ago
HOUSE OF GOLD is a family saga about an Austrian heiress from a Jewish banking dynasty (inspired by the Rothschild family) who upon the outbreak of WWI is forced to choose between the family she has created for herself in England or the family members on the opposite side of the war. The story begins in Vienna, 1911. Greta Goldbaum is engaged to marry the man chosen for her, a distant cousin, a man she has never met. But Greta dreams of living life her way, of breaking through those restraints proper society has placed upon her. But that is especially difficult to do as her family is one of the wealthiest in the world with expectations that must be met. Fun-loving Greta thus gives in to her fate and moves to England to marry her all-too-serious cousin Albert. Knowing Greta is lonely and feeling lost, Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden. Lady Goldbaum advises Greta to think not of her marriage or her husband, but to think only of her garden. Fontmell Abbey is to be rebuilt for Albert and Greta but the gardens are Greta’s. Lady Goldbaum too had felt alone and sad when she first married. Greta throws herself into learning about gardening and finds she is actually happy. But as Greta and Albert build a life together, war looms on the horizon. Greta becomes less and less self-absorbed, caring for the people around her. Like most of the society women at that time, Greta volunteers at the hospitals. She even converts Fontmell Abbey into a hospital for them unwed mothers, and then teaches the women about gardening so they will have a marketable skill. Solomons writes beautifully (and extensively) of the gardens, and her description of Greta’s self-growth and the developing bond between Greta and Albert are heartwarming, thus giving the reader a bit of pleasure amongst the horrors of war. Natasha Solomons writes complex family sagas and the Goldbaums were certainly complex. Branches of the family were spread all across Europe. When war broke out, their wealth could them save them. Being Jewish and controlling so much money, they were targets. Thus the family finds themselves fractured and fighting on different sides in the war. I did find the book lagged in places and I found myself losing interest as there just seemed to be too much descriptive details. I felt quite a bit could have been cut from the book and the ending would not have been so rushed. But still it is a story of family, love, politics, war, heartbreak, and anti-Semitism which will remain in my mind well after the last page of their lives was read.
Gailfl More than 1 year ago
Natasha Solomons has captured the glitz and glitter of the Continent prior to World War I in her historical novel based loosely on the Rothchilds, once the richest family in Europe. The Goldbaums of this novel are Jewish bankers, with houses in Vienna, Paris, London, Berlin and Zurich. The Goldbaum men control both money and political influence in Europe. The Goldbaum women’s function is to marry Goldbaum men and birth Goldbaum children, ensuring the continuation of the dynasty. Thus Greta, of the house of Vienna, was to marry her cousin Albert from the British side of the family. Greta’s move to London separated her from her brother Otto, whose main mission thus far had been to keep Greta out of trouble. Otto’s lot now was to learn the family business and eventually take over the Austrian branch of the business. In the meantime, anti-Semitism was rising in Europe and WWI was looming. Solomons paints the lives of Greta and Otto in this setting. Otto eventually goes to war, and Greta grows in her role of wife and mother. As Solomons is detailing the lead-up to WWI, she is also showing the disparity between the rich and the poor in this time. A young boy living in the sewers beneath the Goldbaum’s mansion in Vienna gives voice to this vast divide. He later becomes an integral part of Otto’s story and gives real texture to Otto’s compassion and loyalty. I loved the lush descriptions that Natasha Solomons employed in the House of Gold. The title itself refers to both the family business and the family name. I had vivid images of the grandeur of the family’s mansions, of Greta’s wild and natural gardens, and Lady Goldbaum’s glasshouses for year-round fruit and flowers. I had not read this author before but look forward to reading more of her works. The last book that I read was a story of Alva Vanderbilt, written in the same time frame (A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler). This work resembles that one in many ways—both portray wealth and position in a pre-WWI era and highlight the conspicuous consumption of the wealthy. My thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Putnam and the author for an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
AnnaDee More than 1 year ago
At the very heart of this excellent story of finance, war, and family relationships is the rarity of a genuine, timeless love story. The settings are the European sites of the various Goldbaum Houses, the established banks and homes of the wealthy, Jewish Goldbaum family. The Goldbaums of Vienna are Baron Peter, Baroness Emmeline and their grown children, Greta and Otto. The Goldbaums of London are Baron Jacques, Baroness Adelheid and their grown children, Albert and Clement. Henri , of the Paris House of Goldbaum, is a favorite cousin of Greta and Otto and plays prominently in their lives. Greta and Albert are to be married to each other, a tradition of the Goldbaums to keep the money in the family. It is their love, that begins tentatively and then grows and strengthens to a solid marriage bond, that is the real jewel in this treasure of a story. Enough of the characters is revealed through their independent actions and thoughts and through their interactions with each other that we learn to understand them and to like them, right from the start. It is a pleasure to read of the opulence and manners of the very wealthy. It is interesting to learn of the intrigue of the great financial houses of the world and the power they wield over everything in life, including war. The author tells us much of each character, involving us in their daily habits and interactions with each other. I thought about the characters when forced to put the book down, looking forward to when I could pick it up again. Thanks so much to Netgalley and the Penguin Group/Putnam for the ARC.
Maru More than 1 year ago
This is the first book of Ms. Solomons' that I have read. House of Gold is a historical fiction that surrounds that Goldbaum Family and takes place in pre-WW1 Europe and through the war. Greta and Otto Goldbaum are siblings that are very close to each other. Greta is the youngest and likes to be a bit mischievous at times, but she also knows when to act the part of Lady Goldbaum. Otto is the eldest, and he's more in to science than finance. As Greta moves from Austria to England in order to marry her distant cousin Albert, whose interest is in entomology. Greta is spoiled and sometimes oblivious to those around her. She lives and believes that she can do anything even though she is a female. Albert is a serious young man who has to have control and order in his life. When things go awry, Albert gets upset and pouts. Greta and Albert must learn to put their issues and selfishness aside in order to have a happy marriage and be able to co-exist. When war looms overhead, Greta must choose between her family in Austria or her family in England. The growing Antisemitism in Europe places the reader in the positions of the Jews and the workers in WW1. I enjoyed House of Gold. It is full of some tidbits of history that I did not know. I was annoyed and liked Greta and Albert. I felt that they're very selfish and childish in some ways, but as they grew together and apart, their characters also blossomed. The House of Gold brought to light the elitism, and racial profiling that occurred in WW1. Ms. Solomons weaved a tale that drew me in and held me captive. If you like historical fiction, I highly recommend House of Gold.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Goldbaum Palace, as it is known in Venice, is a palatial home built with white Austrian stone. The source of the Goldbaum family’s wealth is from the House of Gold which is the Austrian branch of the family bank. The Goldbaums are bankers and marry only other Goldbaums, thus keeping the money in the family. With their wealth, they are also collectors of art and other expensive items. The Austrian branch of the Goldbaum family is headed up by the Baron and Baroness Goldbaum. Young Otto Goldbaum was enthralled when his baby sister, Greta, was born. She was a mischievous like girl whose misdemeanors simply got worse as she grew up. Otto was an obedient son who knew he would always work to keep Greta out of trouble. When it comes time to marry, Greta is not given a choice of her husband, but is only able to make her own decisions on some of the wedding preparations. She is betrothed to marry her cousin, Albert Goldbaum, move to England, and that was that. There, she would join the English branch of the Goldbaum family. Albert is a nice looking man but the two of them do not hit it off well. Their wedding is delayed because he had a cold and is unable to travel to Austria. When they finally marry, their relations are nil. Along with his banking business, Albert is a big collector of insects and butterflies which Greta does not care for. In order to entertain herself, Greta joins Albert’s mother in constructing a massive garden which soon becomes her love. The story follows the other branches of the Goldbaum family in Germany and France. They all are enmeshed together which controls a lot of the wealth in Europe. All of the family members live lavish lives and spend time together. As World War I approaches, the men realize that they must do their part in the war. For some it is not a bad time but for others it is devastating. For those who leave for the war, no one knows who will come back. That is when Albert’s family insists that he leave for America to search out opening a Goldbaum banking branch there. Greta’s and Albert’s marriage is up and down so maybe his being gone will be a good thing. There are a number of major characters in this book that the story follows. The history is certainly well-researched and it is a good story. As with any large family, the members stick together and are loyal to and cover for one another. I understand that this book is based on the Rothschild family and as I have not read any books about them, I cannot comment on how well the Goldbaums compare to the Rothschilds. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.