5.0 out of 5 stars: Must Read!!!, October 11, 2011
By D. Sabin
Pictures of the Past is a compelling work of historical fiction. As a former librarian I have read hundreds of works that try to capture the tragedy that was the Holocaust. This book gives the reader a glimpse into how the events surrounding World War II affected not only the people who lived through those years, but also the generations that would follow. By centering this novel around a few interconnected characters, Eisenberg was able to create a story that will captivate readers ages (15 and up). This book should have a permanent spot in all high school and public libraries. Pictures of the Past will inspire you, haunt you, and most of all, reaffirm your belief in the power of love to overcome all obstacles.
5.0 out of 5 stars: A wonderful read that will keep you enthralled to the end. October 10, 2011
This novel is one of the most intriguing and beautiful books that I have ever read. It contains so much inspiration and love -also heartbreak and hate – that a review is almost impossible to write in order to do the author justice. It is so full of stories of people, rich and poor, who live through the heart wrenching horror of war and separation of families and friends. The story is an epic tale that takes the reader from Chicago to Paris to Berlin and back to New York, covering the years 1937 to 2005.
The story begins in the year 2004 when Gerta Rosen a survivor of the Second World War sees a painting hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago that, she states belonged to her neighbors in Berlin, the Berger family. The plaque on the painting says that it was donated to the Institute by Taylor Woodmere, Woodmere Family Foundation, Kenilworth, Illinois. Gerta announces to one and all that this painting was stolen by the Nazis and she will go to the museum director and make sure they look up the provenance of this painting. She makes good on her threat and the accusation brings scandal to the Woodmere family.
After this, the book goes back to 1937 when Taylor is sent off to Paris to represent his family at a business conference. Of course, in 1937 Europe was in a state of confusion as Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party was taking over Germany and persecuting the Jewish population, gearing up for an invasion. Taylor goes reluctantly to Paris leaving his girlfriend, Emily, behind. However, once he arrives he meets Sarah Berger, daughter of a business associate of his father’s and falls in love with her. A few hours before this fateful meeting he sees a painting by Impressionist Artist Henri Lebasque and buys it for his girl in Chicago. When Taylor falls for Sarah, he notifies his family that he is going on to Berlin for a visit to see the factories of Sarah’s father and spend more time with Sarah. When Taylor is finally called home by his family, he leaves the picture for Sarah. The Bergers become trapped by the Nazis and Mr. Berger is taken away. Sarah and her mother leave and the lovers are not able to be reunited.
Back to the 1960’s, Rachel Gold, a lovely Chicago girl, becomes pregnant and subsequently abandoned by her boyfriend, Court Woodmere, who is Taylor’s son. She goes to New York to live with her aunt who is a Holocaust survivor, has her son, and goes on to college, where she meets Richard Stone, an instructor and eventually marries him. She also has a lucrative career working for a well-known magazine.
Years later, when the dispute over the provenance of the painting is made public, Rachel’s grown son becomes disturbed, as he remembers the picture and is sure that he has seen it somewhere. It comes down to the fact that Taylor Woodmere is the only one who can explain the complicated puzzles that crop up in the lives of these people.
The ending of this book will touch your heart. Pictures of the Past is a wonderful work of historical fiction. The writing is first class with a look into the times right before World War II and looking into the lives and events of the era from a time filled with horror and hate.The love story of Taylor and Sarah lasts though all the years of separation.
I have to say, again, I loved this book!! The author did such a good job of keeping the characters interesting and readers will not get confused by who these people are and where they fit into the story. This is a wonderful read and will keep you enthralled until the end.
5.0 out of 5 stars: Great book!, October 16, 2011
By Bob C.
I generally read mysteries so I was a bit hesitant when my wife highly recommended that I read Pictures of the Past. I took it on a business trip and, I have to admit, I could not put it down. I liked how the individual stories were interwoven and then came together at the end. The author did a wonderful job of developing the characters and providing historical background that made the book come to life.
5.0 out of 5 stars: A great Read!, October 16, 2011
By Ruth Wool
Pictures of the Past is a wonderful story beautifully written with rich character development against a fascinating backdrop of present day and pre-World War II Europe. It kept me hooked from the first page until the last. I know everyone will love reading this book as much as I did.
5.0 out of 5 stars: New voice in fiction, October 13, 2011
By Sherry Goldberg (LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS, USA)
Deby Eisenberg brings an important new voice to fiction. The characters are intriguing and believable. The readers are taken on an unforgettable journey across continents, covering generations. It’s the type of story where you want to know what happens next, so you really can’t put it down. I especially loved hearing about Taylor’s life in Kenilworth, since that town is so close to me. The ending is well worth the read!
5.0 out of 5 stars: From Generation to Generation…., October 12, 2011
Pictures of the Past is a wonderful story that is a mix of history, Holocaust terrors and a love story that brings tears to your eyes over and over again. The book revived many memories from the past regarding the history and background of my own family. So many people have connections to the Holocaust and to the loss of family or friends at that time. One can also relate to many of the wonderful traditions mentioned in the book. I especially enjoyed the references to the places and locations I myself love in the city of Chicago, such as the Art Institute, the Drake Hotel and Lake Shore Drive. The author’s descriptions of Paris and Berlin allow the reader to envision those cities, even if the reader has never been to those locations. One really does not want to put this book down.
The saga of this family is so well written. I cannot wait for the author’s next book!!
5.0 out of 5 stars: Truly engaging, October 9, 2011
By Joan F.
If you are a fan of well-researched historical fiction, memorable characters, engaging plots, and, in general, remarkable stories vividly told, you will love Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg. I loved the way an Impressionist painting became the focus that wove together one family’s story spanning over 60 years. The gripping saga incorporates intrigue, history, modern times, human emotion, and an amazing love story in such a way that I could not put the book down.
5.0 out of 5 stars: Fabulous and Unique Historical Fiction, October 6, 2011
Pictures of the Past was one of my favorite books. Characters were engaging, the setting came alive with wonderfully detailed descriptions, and the interesting concept of the picture’s provenance was unique. This was a quick read and left me wanting a sequel to be written to learn more about the future of the brilliant and captivating characters. The book was exceptional for me because some of the setting was in Chicago. I also significantly enjoyed the historical flavor. Finally, the unusual idea of tying in the provenance of the picture with the story only added to this clever and heartfelt plot.
5.0 out of 5 stars: Amazing, August 26, 2011
By Carlee Londo –
After reading Sarah’s Key, I was drawn to this novel because of the subject matter of the Holocaust. I also liked the contemporary storyline involving young people. It was an easily engaging, but very informative read, with all the best elements of intriguing venues, love and war.
5.0 out of 5 stars: Pictures of the Past, August 25, 2011
By Gerald Farby, MD –
A really interesting concept, with engrossing characters. The pace of the story easily kept my interest and made me eager to get to the next chapter. It’s hard to imagine not enjoying this book.