Friday, February 17, 2012

Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg

If you follow this blog at all you know that my favorite genres are history or historical fiction.  When a book comes along that fits this I am all over it, so I am delighted to share this book with you today - it is amazing!

About the Author:

As the leader of an established Chicago area Book Club, Deby Eisenberg challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss. With a Masters Degree from the University of Chicago, she is a former English teacher and journalist. Inspired by so many wonderful books and formidable authors, and drawing on her love of literary research, art, architecture, Jewish history, and travel in the United States and Europe, she tried to envision a multi-generational love story that would inform as well as entertain, that would broaden the mind and open the heart. Deby and her husband Michael, an obstetrician-gynecologist, live in Riverwoods, Illinois. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Her latest book is the historical fiction novel, Pictures of the Past.

You can visit her website at

About the Novel:

First-time novelist Deby Eisenberg hits the ground running with PICTURES OF THE PAST, an epic family and historical saga, sweeping through Chicago, Paris and Berlin, reliving events from pre-World War II Europe, but beginning in contemporary times.  An Impressionist painting, hanging for decades in the Art Institute of Chicago and donated by the charismatic philanthropist Taylor Woodmere, is challenged by an elderly woman as a Nazi theft.

Mary Lignor of Book Pleasures says, “This novel is one of the most intriguing and beautiful books that I have ever read.  The ending of this book will touch your heart… The writing is first class.”

Taylor’s story takes the reader to 1937.  Sent to Paris on family business, he reluctantly leaves his girlfriend, Emily, a spoiled debutante from Newport, Rhode Island.  But once in Europe, he immediately falls in love – first with an Henri Lebasque painting, and then with the enchanting Sarah Berger of Berlin.  After Taylor returns home, the Berger family becomes trapped in the Nazi web, and any attempts for the new lovers to be reunited are thwarted.

Interwoven with this narrative is the story of Rachel Gold, a beautiful and bright Chicago girl caught up in the times of the late 1960’s.  Pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend Court Woodmere, Taylor’s son, she moves to New York to live with her aunt, a Holocaust survivor.  Years later, as the controversy surrounding the provenance of the painting becomes public, Rachel’s grown son is disturbed by his inexplicable familiarity with the work of art.  And it is only Taylor Woodmere who can unravel the complicated puzzle of their lives.

As a Book Club leader for the past sixteen years, Eisenberg came to understand the kinds of stories that grabbed her group and she challenged herself to write a novel that her avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss.

The result was PICTURES OF THE PAST.

My Thoughts:

Any novel about the time period of the Holocaust captures my heart - what a tremendously painful part of human history and any author willing to undertake the task of presenting that pain through a novel is heroic.

There are so many parts of this novel that just reduce readers to tears and you feel each and every emotion that the characters feel.  The presentation of their stories, their plight, and their experiences is just beautiful and you cannot help but feel like these characters are your own friends and family.

This book is reminiscent of another novel I have read recently, The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman which I loved.  I would offer that Pictures of the Past rates right up there with other novels about this time period. 

Another really neat aspect of this novel is how the author jumps back and forth between the decades through the characters.  We start in 2004, jump back, then forward, and so forth.  I like books that do that and are easy to follow and this one works.

I highly recommend this book - you won't be disappointed and you will in fact find a story that you will treasure!


  1. This sounds like an interesting book and I'll be sure to add it to my TBR list! Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Just the kind of book I'm looking for Lindsay. It looks perfect for our Book Club. I think it will please everyone in the group. Thank you for reviewing it and bringing it to our attention. :D