I got an advanced readers copy from Netgalley for which I am so grateful. All views are my own.
The Goldbaums marry Goldbaums. Female Goldbaums host nice parties, have babies and aqcuiese to their husband’s requests. Male Goldbaums become bankers and make lots of money.
The Goldbaums’ influence reaches across Europe. They are the confidants and bankers of governments and emperors. Little happens without their say-so and even less without their knowledge. But Greta Goldbaum has no say at all in who she’ll marry.
While power lies in wealth, strength lies in family. Greta’s union with cousin Albert will strengthen the bond between the Austrian and the English branches of the dynasty. It is sensible and strategic. Greta is neither.
Defiant and unhappy, she is desperate to find a place that belongs to her, free from duty and responsibility. But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, the Great War is looming and even the Goldbaums can’t alter its course. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides. The House of Goldbaum, along with Europe herself, is about to break apart.
Greta, although young and sheltered, grew on me. I felt intensely her wish to be free, her wish to enjoy her husband and life. From establishing her garden her way, to battling for her female head gardener and her establishment of a labour ward for women who couldn’t fit in the hospitals crammed with soldiers from the frontlines – everything quietly screamed “I have a choice”.
It is a personal story inside a family saga over the period around world war one encased in the extravagance of the superbly wealthy. I zoomed through this book, devouring Greta and Albert’s story. It was beautiful and tragic and happy.