Pictures at an Exhibition

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.
Rating: ****

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