Mr Rosenblum’s List

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands

Jack Rosenblum is five foot three and a half inches of sheer tenacity and through study and application he intends to become a Very English Gentleman.

Jack is compiling a list: a comprehensive guide to the manners, customs and habits of England. He knows that marmalade must be bought from Fortnum & Mason, he’s memorised every British monarch back to 913 A.D. and the highlight of his day is the BBC weather forecast. And he never speaks German, apart from the occasional curse.

From the moment he disembarked at Harwich in 1937 he understood that assimilation was the key. But the war’s been over for eight years and despite his best efforts, his bid to blend in remains fraught with unexpected hurdles. Including his wife.

Sadie finds his obsession baffling. She doesn’t want to forget who they are or where they came from. She’d rather bake cakes to remember the people they left behind than worry about how to play tennis.

But Jack is convinced they can find a place to call home. In a final attempt to complete his list, he leads a reluctant Sadie deep into the English countryside. Here, in a land of woolly pigs, bluebells and jitterbug cider, they embark on an impossible task….

Read an excerpt from the book below!

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115 Responses to “Mr Rosenblum’s List”

  1. Natasha Solomons says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    It’s great to here from a Briton in exile… thanks for sharing your story. Swearing just sounds better in German, doesn’t it?

    Thanks so much for getting in touch.


  2. Ulrike Ilse says:

    Hi Natasha,

    Currently I am reading your novel Mister Rosenblum´s List, only one chapter to go… I enjoyed the story but as I am from Berlin Schöneberg and native Berlin speaker I found many incorrect facts about Berlin especially Schöneberg and also incorrect german wording and grammar, no German would ever use not even my Mama who´s 80 years of age. E.g. nobody would say “Baumtorte” in Berlin… Some of the curses are also incorrect like “Gott in himmel” instead of ” Gott im Himmel”. Please do not feel offended by my remarks. As already said the story is great. If you would like to know more about the details please feel free to contact me. Greetings from Schöneberg

  3. Ulrike Ilse says:

    P.S. I read the novel in English, just learned that since 17 Sep 10 one can buy it in German. Though I am curious how the translator solved some of the wrong German wording I will not buy the book in German ;-)).

  4. Ulrike Ilse says:
    For those who would like to see how a BaumKUCHEN is manufactured.

  5. Natasha Solomons says:

    Hi Ulrike,

    Really glad you enjoyed the book — I am sorry that you felt there were mistakes. It was checked by a German editor and a German proof reader — the German is a mixture of German/ English and Yiddish.

    Baumtorte is what my Grandmother and her three sisters called the cake. They were all born and grew up in Berlin… I’ve taken the recipe from her handwritten cook book.

    Your mum is very young! Jack and Sadie would be over 100 years old now — perhaps the difference is in the extra generation.


  6. Ulrike Ilse says:

    Thank you Natasha for your response. How old is (was) your Grandmum then and where did she and her sisters grew up in Berlin? Possibly we are related to each other and never knew? Well, of course the word Baumtorte was never used in our family… Besides my Grandma would be 105 by next month. However, trust me. It is not the mixture. If you ever need a proof reader who is able to speak Berlin German and jiddisch as well as knowing the locations you may contact me;-). One last question: Why did you Sadie call Sadie? Mutti would have given her a German name. xx Ulrike

  7. Jeffrey Landaw says:

    Finished the book over the Shemini Atzeret/Simchas Torah weekend. Charmed my socks off and drew audible laughter from my wife. Now recommending it to Gentile as well as Jewish friends. Good luck with No. 2.

  8. marianne vaney says:

    Dear Natasha, I was thrilled, touched and sometimes moved to tears. I was born Jewish in Hungary, where i spent the war years working for Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews, including my parents. After the war I went to London where I worked as a mother’s help, although I already had a Proficiency Certificate in English.I was not quite a refugee, but an alien with a domestic permit.It was not always fun. However, I studied at LCE and English during the evening and worked during the day. Now I am living in Switzerland, a retired teacher, a Catholic but I still keep my Jewish roots and I love England, otherwise i could not have taught English at Grammar Schhols amd Further Education Institutes for 30 years. However, it was easier continuing to study at different Universities in England with a Swiss passport.
    I have written a few articles, one about my work with Wallenberg it’s on the Wallenberg’s website. I am sorry if I bored you with my own story but I was reading your book last night until the early hours and felt I had to write you. My text is for
    YOU ONLY.i also havea Landau grandfather. may be we are distant cousins??!

  9. Betty Chatterjee says:

    Dear Natasha,

    Putting everything else on hold I read your admirable novel from start to finish in (at least for me) record time.

    It touched me very deeply. Mr. and Mrs. Rosenblum’s reactions to their identities and experiences reminded me of my own parents reactions. After my childhood as a second generation immigrant in England I have spent the last 38 years as a first generation immigrant in Denmark.

    Adjustments to language and culture are very challenging, facts which very few native born ‘pillars of society’ really seem to understand.

    This book is highly relevant at a time when more and more of us have to adapt as emmigrants or come to terms with immigration. As such I am delighted to hear that it has already been translated into 9 languages; which ones?

    I look forward to reading your next novel.

  10. Alison Cook says:

    Hello Natsha, 🙂

    I came to the book with no preconceptions. I have extremely little knowledge about Jewish culture and only a smattering of the German language having lived in northern Germany for 2 years in the early 70s.
    So I have to tell you that I have loved, laughed and cried my way through your novel. I don’t know why and I know Jack was 5ft 3ins, and I’ve just read that there is ‘a movie on its way’ but my visual imagination caught Jim Broadbent as Jack and stayed with me throughout the novel.
    I really didn’t want to finish the story, I did not want the story to end. In fact at certain points such as: Sadie in the frozen pond, I didn’t want her to die, I didn’t want them to go back to Lonon and a few other occasions, I had to hide the book so I wouldn’t read any more. Hurrah! I knew my hiding place so I read more. I am so glad you let Bobby Jones be a ‘good’n’ and the ‘Sir’ put in his place – I loved the woolly-pig problems. The love eventually extended from the villagers.
    Alas I finished the novel about 20 minutes ago. I read the last few chapters in my garden, on this unexpected glorious English day, which looks out onto verdant pastures gnarled trees and scattered sheep. Thank you for the flowers of nature, my mother (she died last year, in this month) taught me everything about wild flowers and creatures in nature so that part was especially beautiful for me.
    Thank you so much Natasha for such a wonderfully delightful story – I look forward to your next one.
    I shall now read the ‘blog’ comments and look to the rest of your website. Thank you for teaching me some of the intimacies of your Jewish culture and your very very proud people. I am humbled. x

  11. Marie Dowd says:


    Have just put down Mr Rosenblum’s List after finishing the last page and very much wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. I cried through the postscript when I realised how the story was ending – both from joy and sorrow for the characters, but also because I was finishing a book that moved me greatly. I was engrossed and charmed from the start. You are a talented writer and to produce Mr Rosenblum’s List as your first book just shows how gifted you are. I look forward to your next book and the movie.

    Ben Kingsley for Jack I think.


  12. Sue Templar says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I chose it randomly in a bookshop and it rewarded me handsomly. It made me laugh and cry and laugh again. I lent it to my mum in law who is Polish and came to England after the war with her parents, she loved it, she said it reminded her of her feelings and early life as a ‘foreigner’.

  13. jan jones says:

    taken out by chance from my mobile library in Suffolk. Pondered, laughed ,cried. Didn’t want to read the last page as I didn’t want the story to finish, but then I suppose according to Sadie it never does. Thank you natasha for a great book.

  14. Natasha Solomons says:

    Thanks Jeffrey — so glad that you and your wife enjoyed it so much!


  15. Sian Grace says:

    Dear Natasha, I just wanted to say that I have just finished reading Mr Rosenblum’s list and I LOVED it. I read a lot, but I have never been compelled to write to the author before – this is the first time I’ve done it! I didn’t want to leave Jack and Sadie and the Dorset community they found themselves in. It made me laugh aloud and cry quietly. We all know about the horrors of the Second World War – there’s plenty about it, but I had never thought about it from the angle of refugees to the UK from Germany in the 30s, and the prejudice that they had to face in a new country. I was really interested to learn about the hand-out that refugees were given on arrival into the UK and I’m going to look it up. It’s amazing! ! Basically, you’ve given me a really good story to read, and also the compulsion to find out more about life and our history. I’m so looking forward to your next novel – I think you are such a talented writer. Wishing you lots of luck. I’d dearly love to write that novel that’s inside me, but if I ever will I don’t know! Just happy reading others’ successes!

    Sian xx

  16. Diane Paul says:

    Hi Natasha – I enjoyed Mr R’s List immensely and have included it in my book blog today: The sub-text is so much more than the surface improbabilities and that is what gives it its charm. Please put me on your list for future info and good luck with your next book. The suggestion of Ben Kingsley as Jack is ironic.
    Regards – Diane.

  17. Deepali says:

    Hello Natasha,
    I’ve heard about this book, and been fascinated with the premise from the beginning. However, I haven’t been able to find this novel in bookstores in India.
    Amazon also does not have an e-format that I can buy.

    Would it be possible for us to work out some way in which I can read this book? Here are some suggestions:
    1) I buy it directly from you (not sure if this is possible…)
    2) Perhaps we can work out a promotion deal where I review the book on my blog for you? I would be happy to review the ebook version in any format you choose.

    Hope we can work something out.
    Thanks, A hopeful reader!
    e-Volving Books

  18. Petra says:

    Dear Natasha,

    I’ve bought your book on my holiday in Spain, and I’m glad to tell you how much I liked it. Your nature descriptions are simply beautiful. The story and the charachters deeply touched me. You did a really great job. I believe I’m the first enthusiast of you living in Hungary. I can’t wait to see your book translated to our language in the stores. Until that I will tell evryone how much I enjoyed your book.

    Petra, a charmed Hungarian reader

  19. Teresa says:

    Oh, what a wonderful book! I am Polish/British and live in Dorset.Dear Natasha, please write more and more; it was such a pleasure to read about Mr Rosenblum.

  20. […] books and the people who read them by Elif Batuman 17. A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin 18. Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha […]

  21. Ellen Aronson says:

    Dear Ms. Solomons,
    Just finished listening to Mr. Rosenbloom Dreams in English, driving home from work with tears streaming down my face. I wonder if people driving past me noticed and if they wondered what was wrong.
    I loved the book so much. I loved the characters, mourned the loss of Curtis and exulted at the arrival of Bobby Jones. The sights, the smells, the sounds of the countryside — all were just wonderful and vivid and I thank you for the experience. In my younger years I often got in touch with authors when a book moved me and I planned to come into the house and write to you, reminded of Jack’s myriad unanswered letters to Bobby Jones. I never dreamed there would be a website where I could easily write.
    My favorite line in the book was this: “It was as if there were a Curtis-shaped hole in the universe.” That one really brought tears to my eyes and I had to turn off the cd player in the car and think about the “Stanley-shaped” hole in the universe, left when my father died 8 years ago. My mother is 95 — they were wonderful parents and when she goes there will be a “Stanley and Minnie shaped hole” — it is shaped like the pair of them dancing to a slow song, cheek to cheek, in love for over 60 years.
    So thank you for this book. I will suggest it to my daughters and I hope they will enjoy it as much as I have.
    (By the way — I thought that the reader added so much to my ability to appreciate the novel.)

  22. […] vill jag tipsa om en engelspråkig bok, Mr Rosenblums List av Natasha Solomons. Det är en charmig bok som handlar om Mr Rosenblum som gör en lista över hur man blir en prefekt […]

  23. Natasha Solomons says:

    Thanks for your gorgeous message, Ellen. I’ve sent you an e-mail too. x

  24. Peter Hopfinger says:

    Dear Natasha,
    your book was both amazing and touching. As a so called ‘second generation survivor’ you have amazing insights. I grew up in England in the 1950s. My parents came from Austria on different ‘Kindertransport’ in 1938. Since 1970 my home has been Munich. My mother is alive and well at 90. My son who is of your generation, has frequent conversations about the times you write about in Mr. Rosenblums List with her. This and stories like yours keeps the candle burning.

    Thank you and God bless,

  25. Dawn says:

    Congratulations on this wonderful first novel. I am so pleased to read that you are considering a film too – it will be fantastic. As a 3rd generation immigrant (lapsed) Jew, I find the book a stunning mixture of lightness, whimsy and poignant insight into how prejudice destroys self belief and steals lives. As a librarian, I will look out for you and follow your career attentively – don’t let go of the magic Natasha; hold on to your humanity no matter how many books and films you make – it’s precious, beautiful and rare. Thank you for the pleasure of this read.
    Dawn (nee Hirsch)

  26. Dawn says:

    Returned to your website today to find out where to pick up a copy of the audiobook. Is it available in the UK please? Dawn

  27. Beth says:

    I just finished reading Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English. Loved it. I’m intrigued by the recipes, especially the Baumtorte. Any chance of seeing these recipes (in English)?

  28. John says:

    Just finished reading Mr R.
    Did you get to sample many West Country ciders (for research)?

  29. Carole says:

    Finished the book last night….loved every word….good luck for the future.

  30. Natasha Solomons says:

    Thanks Carole.

  31. Ingrid Heinkel says:

    Dear Mrs Solomons,
    I just finished today the book “Wie Mr. Rosenblum in England sein Glück fand”. Thank you so much for this wonderful book. I enjoyed it very much. It´s one of my favorite books – and I´m a really difficult book reader. For me a book has to be humorous, profound, intelligent and it has to humanize the people of the story.
    >YOU DID IT!!!! Thank you!!!!
    Now I will tell everyone that I have three favorite books:
    M. Ibrahim und die Blumen des Korans – Eric Emmanuel Schmitt
    Der englische Harem – Anthony McCarten

  32. Charles says:

    Do you have any materials for a book club?

    A reading guide, discussion questions, etc.?

  33. brian pailin says:

    Dear Natasha,
    The book club in Richmond is due to meet on 12 May at 1930 hours. Is this a possible date for you or would you like to suggest an alternative? I have been told to mention that a guest bedroom is available if you would like to stay overnight and we will prepare a light super. We will also cover your expenses should you be able to attend.
    I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely, Brian.

  34. Joanna and Paul says:

    Dear Natasha, thank you very much for writing such a wonderful book. My partner and I both read it. We laughed and we cried. We didn’t want the book to finish but we couldn’t put it down.
    I read the last pages today and cried and cried. I cried for the passing of time and the fickleness of life and the loss of friends and family. But as Curtis would say it is all about ‘Jack in the Green’ and life is as good as you make it. Thanks J&P

  35. Natasha Solomons says:

    Dear Joanna and Paul,

    Thanks so much for writing. I am really pleased that you both enjoyed Mr R… The end of things always makes me sad too. Dusk. Autumn. The day before my birthday…

  36. Mrs Mac says:

    Dear Natasha – This is one of my books of the month (and may well turn out to be my book of the year!). I live in Dorset, having been born in Wiltshire but lived in London for a long time, so I felt at home in every part of the book – except that I am not Jewish myself. I have a dear friend who has struggled all of his life with the arrival in Britain of his Jewish Polish grandparents, and with being different at school, and knowing that he comes from a long long line of a different kind of people, but not really knowing how to handle that. It was lovely to read that Jack managed to handle it, to live the life he wanted, and in doing so, gave Mrs Rosenblum the life she wanted also! A lovely, lovely read, and have given it as a gift several times, as cannot imagine anyone not enoying this beautifully written little book! Thank you.

  37. Paula TIller says:

    Hello Natasha. I finished your wonderful novel last week and still well up with tears in memory (and mourning the loss) of the wonderful characters. My grandparents were Jewish immigrants and my only real connection to my Jewish heritage. Sadly they died several years ago. Your book re-connected me with their world in London. Importantly it also reminded me of how lucky I am to be living in rural Ireland despite having to adapt to being an outsider here. Jack reminded me that you’re as much of an outsider as you choose to be.

    I read your notes regarding how you assessed whether or not your stories were a success when reading them to your grandfather Paul. Well as I was laughing out loud with tears pouring down my face at the end of the book, I’d say this story is definitely a success! I actually cried again the day after finishing the book as I was summarising it to my husband, and telling him why I loved it and how much I was going to miss it. Truth be told I’m squinting at the screen through tear-filled eyes too.

    I felt very connected with your novel, in terms of people and place and thank you so much for such a joyous read! It brought my beloved grandfather, only slightly taller than 5′ 3″, back to me for a short while.

    Needless to say I have a list of people who will be receiving the book as gifts.

  38. Susan Hooper says:

    Dear Natasha,

    I have just finished your charming novel – what a wonderful read! I live in Somerset and, although it is not Dorset, there are many similarities – cider being just one of them! I am going to see if I can find any evidence of woolly-pigs here!

  39. wilna smienk says:

    Dear Natasha,

    I took your book with me on holiday. We went to the United States (from The Netherlands). Just after finishing it, we drove in Vermont and passed a little village called Dorset. And guess what: I told my husband about Dorset in England and the golfcourse of Mr. Rosenblum when we passed a beautiful golfcourse!
    No co-incedent for me.
    Thanks for your lovely book

  40. Pam Griffin-Hody says:

    Dear Natasha:

    I finished it late last night after starting it after work – I couldn’t put it down although there were two times I had to run for the tissues and take a break. First, when Sadie sees her mother and smells the poppy seeds and secondly the line mentioned by another reader “the Curtis shaped hole…”. When I finished, I was both emotionally full and a bit bereft because I didn’t want to leave the characters and the place. But, I had the “sequel” from the library and decided that I would ration it – at least until the weekend. But I had to pick it up and at least read the excerpt on the cover. Alas, my lovely Canadian library has two English editions – the “normal” one – Mr. R.’s list and the American “Mr. R. Dreams in English”. I was disapointed but then I couldn’t imagine how there could be sequel. I will be checking and grabbing everything you write in future! And I will also be buying my own copy of “Mr. R.’s List” – the original NOT the American copy. It was apparent to me from the first page that this was going to be keeper not a once-read from library. Thank you.

  41. Elspeth says:

    Hi there from Italy! I’ve just finished reading the book again; I enjoyed it so much the first time!I would love to have your gift of writing but seeing as I don’t, I’ll keep reading your books.Con affetto, Els.

  42. Giorgio says:


    the Italian version of your second book ‘jumped’ in my hands last Monday at a book shop in a train station. it often happens, best books simply attract my attention through intangible communication channels; I never heard about you before.

    the result: today is the ‘Monday after’ and your book is already finished

    the new objective: to find and read the other one.

    very capturing, great compliments from Italy … read you again, soon


  43. Leah Lipsey says:

    Dear Natasha,
    Just a few words to say how much I’ve enjoyed your first book, and I’m almost finished your second one….so now I need to know that I can look forward to the next one!
    You have a wonderful talent for storytelling. Both books held my interest throughout with their unusual story lines, credible characters and wonderful use of the English language.
    Thank you.
    Wishing you and David Shana Tova
    Leah Lipsey (Aunty Lily’s daughter in law)

  44. mike robets says:

    Hi Natasha ,
    Loved the book and a chance of playing Jack in the film? My wife who read the book insisted I read it because apparently it’s me! I’m short, dark, obsessive, loveable but infuriating (her words) and a newcomer to bulbarrow ( Well I’ve been here 18 years). I have been a pro actor.
    I am currently directing a community play, “Damer’s Vision”, locally written, which will be performed at St James Church before the Bishop of Sherborne on the 20.11.2011 – a play about Lord Dammer flooding the old village of Milton Abbas. You would be most welcome.

  45. Like several of your readers and commenters, I’m a 2nd generation child of parents who fled from Germany to the UK (Mine came in early 1939…) Your characters and their story resonate so much with my memories and experiences–it’s rare to find anything authentic written about the experiences of that generation in the UK. You’ve done a marvelous job of capturing the atmosphere and emotions of that era and that very unique cohort of immigrants–your book is both educational and highly entertaining. I look forward to more!

  46. enid portnoy says:

    Is your book available in paperback in U.S.?

  47. Ford Prefect says:

    Great book, enjoyed reading it a lot. My PA gave it to me because she knows I like the English way of living despite being thoroughly German.

    Congrats to that success and best wishes for another!

  48. Natasha Solomons says:

    Hi Ford – I’m really looking forward to the German edition of the book. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with the translator – some of the English names/ places are very difficult to translate.

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