Review: Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg

Product Details

Paperback: 376 pages

Publisher: Studio House Literary (August 9, 2011)

ISBN-10: 0615483127

ISBN-13: 978-0615483122

Genre: Historical Fiction



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 Review:

Because my book club is reading Sarah’s Key for our Book of The Month, I wasn’t really looking forward to another WWII/Holocaust story. However, I loved this book!! Deby Eisenberg’s writing style reminds me of Jodi Picoult’s. Each chapter tells a story from a different characters perspective, in a different time period, with there being quite a few characters to keep up with. However, it is all leading up to the merging of these characters and how they are all connected.

In Sarah’s Key, I didn’t feel that I had closure with the main character and I was left with more questions than resolution. However, in Pictures of the Past, I felt that Deby brings the characters full circle without it being too unrealistic or too perfect. I loved the descriptiveness of each scene and the beauty brought out during a time of war. For example, Sarah takes Taylor to all her favorite shops and sees past the markings of hatred the Nazi’s wrote across Jewish shops/businesses. It was in the simple things mentioned that made me fall in love with the characters. I didn’t feel a sense of rushing through different character’s chapters, like I did with Sarah’s Key. I loved reading about each perspective and life story and towards the end of the book, it all came together beautifully.

This is a beautiful story, very well written, and deserves to be recognized as a great Historical literary book. I highly suggest this book and encourage you to add this to your must read book list!

*This book was provided by Pump Up Your Books in exchange for an honest review.

Pictures of the Past Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

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1232Monday, February 6

Book reviewed at Year of Jubilee Reviews

1232Tuesday, February 7

Book reviewed at Book Nook Club

1232Wednesday, February 8

Book reviewed at Acting Balanced

1232Thursday, February 9

Guest blogging at Acting Balanced

1232Friday, February 10

Book reviewed at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem

1232Monday, February 13

Book reviewed at True Media Solutions

1232Tuesday, February 14

Book reviewed at Bookworm Lisa

Interviewed at The Writer’s Life

Wednesday, February 15

Book reviewed at Books in the Burbs

Thursday, February 16

Book reviewed at Hands and Home

Friday, February 17

Book reviewed at Everyday Is An Adventure

Monday, February 20

Book reviewed at 2 Kids and Tired Books

Tuesday, February 21

Book reviewed at Library of Clean Reads

Wednesday, February 22

Book reviewed at Bags, Books & Bon Jovi

Thursday, February 23

Book reviewed at Hey, I Wanna Read That

Friday, February 24

Book reviewed at Celtic Lady’s Reviews

Monday, February 27

Book review & interview at S.O.S. Aloha

Interviewed at Literarily Speaking

Tuesday, February 28

Book reviewed at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, February 29

Book reviewed at The Bookish Dame

5 thoughts on “Review: Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg

  1. Lisa — I am so delighted that you were captured by Pictures of the Past; please know that your wonderful, thoughtful, and articulate review was much appreciated. Writing the novel has been a fascinating journey and I am grateful that it has been so enthusiastically received. All the best to you on your creative and engaging blog.
    Deby Eisenberg


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