A Jewish immigrant goes to extreme lengths to become British in a bittersweet, uneven comic debut.
Handed a book of helpful hints on assimilation as he arrives in England from Berlin in 1937, Jack Rosenblum takes the list of suggestions to heart in this story based on the experience of the author’s grandparents. Jack quickly establishes a successful carpet factory in London, which pays for his oh-so-English expenses: a fine house, a Savile Row suit, a Jaguar car. But money can’t buy him what he craves most deeply, membership to an English golf club—undeclared racism keeps Jews tidily excluded from these. So Jack decides to construct his own golf course, on an idyllic plot of Dorset countryside. Neglecting his business and his sad wife, Jack hurls himself into the task, thereby discovering a different kind of Englishness colored by country characters, landscape, history and myth. Solomons’ prose tips between the awkward and the rhapsodic in a meandering tale in which grave issues such as anti-Semitism, survival and ruin never seem to weigh too heavily. Setbacks mount, but fairy-tale turns of event and acts of loyalty mean the golf course is completed in time for the coronation of Elizabeth II, a crowning moment of achievement and acceptance for Jack Rose-in-Bloom.
A gentle, soft-focus affair that doesn’t entirely avoid queasiness and cliché in its efforts to charm.