I must confess, I didn’t get very far through this book before stopping. That’s the problem with reading more than one book at a time (something which I do quite often) – if one isn’t grabbing my attention, I naturally gravitate towards the other one when it comes to choosing which one to pick up. And so I didn’t finish Mr Rosenblum’s List in time for Book Club. But it seems that the problem I had with it was one that most people shared, from those who had finished it and those who hadn’t – the title and description of this novel seemed a little misleading. I have written a review recently about another book, The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, which suffered from the same problem. Perhaps suffered is the wrong word, from my point of view at least – I still really enjoyed that book, even though it wasn’t really about what it said it would be about in the blurb. But Mr Rosenblum’s list was more of a disappointment.
The description of the book led me to believe that Mr Rosenblum, a German immigrant who arrives in London at the outset of World War II with his wife Sadie and their baby daughter, will be using a list given to him on arrival in a pamphlet instructing immigrants how to act like “the English.” I imagined the results of this literal undertaking of items on the list to be fairly comical while also quite poignant, as he tries to fit in in a place where he desperately wants to belong. I think I (and most other people) were expecting the list to be the main focus of the book, with each item causing him problems in one way or another, as Rosenblum attempts to turn himself into a quintisential Englishman. In fact, the list itself seemed to be almost over and done with within the first few chapters, which I found disappointing. I think, should I return tio the book and finish it, I woul probably enjoy it in a gentle sort of way – just because it didn’t meet my expectations, doesn’t mean it won’t be an enjoyable read. However, I have to say the first few chapters didn’t grip me very much.
Perhaps the problem is the title – it makes the list seem more integral than it actually is. The US edition bizarrley is called Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English, which might have been better in some ways, but seems a little strange. I won’t rate it, since I didn’t finish it, but I will say that the other book I was reading at the same time was much more entertaining, and it has subsequently been chosen to be the next Book Club read.