Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rembrant's Shadow by Janet Berg

After I was assigned my All Author Blog Blitz buddies, I checked them out (of course). Both are interesting ladies so I decided to feature my hostess as well. 

I love the cover of Rembrandt's Shadow. And maybe it's my BA in Art History or having a history buff for a mother, but I believe Janet Berg's book has great potential. However, since I haven't read it yet, I'll keep quiet and let Janet lead the discussion:

My debut novel “Rembrandt’s Shadow” is based on stunning real life events of my family, as appeared in the New York Times.


REMBRANDT’S SHADOW is the story of the early life of Sylvie Rosenberg, the aristocratic daughter of a renowned Jewish art dealer in Holland. She spends the first 14 years of her childhood without ever knowing her father’s love. Until the day he trades his beloved Rembrandt to the Nazis in exchange for her life. She wonders, once the Germans get what they want, will the train doors open to their freedom or to the death camp?  Sylvie’s then crushed by her first love’s betrayal – when he goes back on his word to hide her family. The Rosenbergs finally escape to a British internment camp on a Caribbean island where Sylvie is forced to grow up too fast.

She remembers her dreams as a young girl of being swept away by a Prince or a Duke, not the door-to-door salesman she ends up with in America who abandons her and their son Michael. Sylvie becomes consumed with passing on her Jewish heritage to her son while Michael meets obstacles in his life. Then one day in a coincidental meeting in a New York museum, Sylvie once again looks into the eyes of a Rembrandt and realizes what she must sacrifice to save her son.       

Excerpt from Rembrandt’s Shadow as featured in The East Hampton Star:

     Sylvie had long abandoned her tea set by the age of 8, but never liked playing alone at home. She wanted to be just like everyone else and skipped along the sidewalk that ran along the chain-link fence, thinking that very thing one day. Some of the unfamiliar children in the park spotted her and waved her toward the entrance.
     "What's that on your necklace?" one girl asked, studying her through the steel lattice. "A star?"
     Sylvie nodded.  The girl unlocked the latch, and let her in, and whispered something to someone else. The gate closed behind her. Suddenly, Sylvie felt different, like she didn't belong there. Her smile shifted at the same time as the sky. Light raindrops ricocheted off her head and off her turned-in feet.
The other children started drawing something in the wet dirt with a stick, a giant symbol. Someone with a small voice said they thought the mark stood for good luck. One of the girls much bigger and older than the others, called everyone over to where she stood and eyed Sylvie the hardest. "We're going to play a game now. It's called "Catch the Jew."
      The children were shouting and snickering as they chased Sylvie in circles. The big girl was the first to throw the mud, but the others soon followed. Then they caught her. Sylvie was forced to stand in the center of an ancient-looking letter. Whatever it meant, to her it stood for humiliation. As her fine shoes sank into the sludge, minutes seemed forever. She refused to make a spectacle, refused to make eye contact with the other children. So these are Christians, she thought. She thought about telling them that her family wasn't a religious one, but that probably wouldn’t change her from being a Jew.
The thug picked up a stick off the ground and pointed with it at the dirt on Sylvie' shiny new shoes, then dragged the branch down each of Sylvie's arms, leaving a track of dirt everywhere it touched. "I'm afraid you are nothing but a dirty Jew, now."
      Sylvie recited the alphabet in her head backwards while the big girl taunted her, pulling the stick slowly down Sylvie's spine, walking behind Sylvie, then in front of her. Sylvie thought of her science lesson in school, how the moon rotates around the earth.
I believe this story is unique because our family has been waiting over 70 years for the return of our grandfather’s paintings that were stolen by the Nazis. You can read more about this story and the sequel on my website and other social media: