Natasha Solomons’s House of Gold, the gripping saga of the Goldbaum family, is loosely based on the Rothschilds, a powerhouse family, once the wealthiest family in the world. The Goldbaum banking dynasty covers most of Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s. Their influence reaches far and wide even to kings, emperors, and czars.
The story is beautifully told, as it examines not only history, bigotry, and the ways in which wealthy families dictate to governments, but how they once imitated royalty by forcing cousins to marry cousins to protect their dynasties. With Goldbaum families in Austria, England, and France, it was deemed necessary that the families be tied together through marriages. Enter Greta Goldbaum and her cousin Albert.
When Greta, of the Vienna Goldbaums is told that she must marry her cousin Albert of the English Goldbaums, she rebels, not wanting to marry a total stranger. The author points out that while Albert has received a photo of Greta, Greta has not received a photo of him. It seems Albert has a choice in the marriage but she does not.
Gender discrimination is noted throughout the book in many ways. Greta is told that she must suffer her marriage, and distract herself with a garden. Pregnant women are refused physicians at the time of delivery because the men on the battlefield. Albert attends a lecture presented by a man about the findings of a “lady scientist”, Mary Putnam Jacobi, M.D. The presenter refers to Dr. Jacobi as “Mrs. Jacobi”.
Meanwhile the Great War has begun, and the governments of several countries are asking for more and more loans from the Goldbaums. The Goldbaum men are officers in the armies of their respective countries, but high military office and governmental appointments are withheld because they are Jewish. The coffers of the belligerent countries are running low, and money is borrowed from America at exorbitant prices. While Europe is bleeding money, America profits. America finally enters the war, but the reason (the bombing of the Lusitania) is not mentioned.
While House of Gold may, as first, appear to be another story of a wealthy young woman’s romance, I assure it is not. Shortly after beginning to read, I was hooked. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially that with a lot of truth thrown in, will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.
What makes this viewer Grumpy?
- Misused words;
- misplacement of the word “only” within sentences;
- mistakenly using further for farther;
- split infinitives;
- beginning sentences with conjunctions;
- using “come” in place of “go”, and “bring” in place of “take”, common mistakes today that would not have happened even 40 years ago, much less in the time in which this book is set.