House of Gold

Written by Natasha Solomons
Review by Douglas Kemp

The Goldbaums are a wealthy Jewish family with considerable political and economic influence throughout Europe. It is 1911, and the world has little inkling of the chaos and destruction that is to be inflicted upon the European civilisation by the Great War. For the Goldbaums it is a disaster in that the extended family are on opposing sides in the conflict, torn apart by the fighting. Greta Goldbaum is part of the Austrian side of the dynasty, but the family needs her to marry for strategic purposes. She is cajoled into a marriage with her cousin Albert Goldbaum, who is the eligible family bachelor in England. Greta is a spirited and engaging young lady, but finds life in the new country difficult to adapt to. Matters are made much worse in 1914 with the start of the War and the subsequent division of the family. In England, there is anti-Semitism and the rise of the women’s suffrage movement, as Natasha Solomons maps expertly the fortunes of Greta and the wider family.

This is an absorbing family saga, located firmly in the turbulent years around the First World War. The Goldbaum family is clearly based upon the Rothschilds – the great pan-European banking and finance dynasty. The characters are rounded and well-developed, and Greta Goldbaum is a spirited and appealing creation. There is definite scope for a sequel, for the reader is indeed left wanting to know more about the fate and future of these people and the wider family.