Pictures at an Exhibition
by Sara Houghteling
Arlene Almas: We are in Paris, and it's 1939.
Max is a young man from a family of highly successful and affluent Jewish art
dealers and collectors, and has learned a great deal about the profession from
his father, who is very well regarded in his field. Max has also fallen in love
with Rose, his father's apprentice. The author goes on to narrate vividly the lives
of Max, his family and friends, and Rose (who is not Jewish) as the Germans make
their inevitable way into France and carry out their occupation. Through the
prism of the art world and its practitioners, we are able to see the horrific
effect of the Nazis on a country's people and culture. This is not a gruesome
story - its achievement is in providing a dramatic picture of individuals who
are determined to not only survive, but to preserve as much as possible of their
former lives during an extremely horrible period of history. The ultimate effect
is one of life, family, and culture reasserting themselves, so that the world of these people we have come to know can go on.