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Authors: Ayelet Waldman

Tags: #Fiction, #Literary, #Contemporary Women, #Sagas

Love and Treasure

BOOK: Love and Treasure
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Also by Ayelet Waldman
FICTION
Red Hook Road
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
Daughter’s Keeper
NONFICTION
Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes,
Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace

THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF

Copyright © 2014 by Ayelet Waldman

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by
Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto,
Penguin Random House Companies.

www.aaknopf.com

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Waldman, Ayelet.
Love and treasure : a novel / Ayelet Waldman.—First edition.
pages   cm
“This is a Borzoi book”—T.p. verso.
ISBN 978-0-385-53354-6 (hardcover)—ISBN 978-0-385-53355-3 (ebook)
1. Reminiscing in old age—Fiction.   2. World War, 1939–1945—
Confiscations and contributions—Hungary—Fiction.   3. Holocaust,
Jewish (1939–1945)—
Hungary—Fiction.   4. Jewish property—Hungary—Fiction.   5. Domestic fiction.   I. Title.
PS3573.A42124L695 2014      813′.6—dc23      2012049781

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental
.

Jacket image:
A Still Life of a Tazza with Flowers
by Jan Brueghel the Younger (details). Private Collection/Johnny Van Haeften Ltd., London/The Bridgeman Art Library
Jacket design by Kelly Blair

v3.1

To Michael, only and always
.

Contents

Cover
Other Books by This Author
Title Page
Copyright
Dedication
Prologue: Maine: 2013

One: Salzburg: 1945–1946

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14

Two: Budapest; Israel: 2013

Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31

Three: Budapest: 1913

Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Epilogue: New York: 1948
Acknowledgments
A Note About the Author
Reading Group Guide

 

 

 

JACK WISEMAN, IMMERSED AS EVER
in the pages of a book, did not notice the arrival of the bus until alerted by the stir among the other people waiting in the overheated station lounge. The pugnacious chin he aimed at the coach’s windows had a bit of Kleenex clinging to it, printed with a comma of blood, and his starched and ironed shirt gaped at the collar, revealing pleats in the drapery of his neck and a thick white thatch of fur on his chest. He squinted, caught a glimpse of the glory of his granddaughter’s hair, and pulled himself to his feet. He tore a corner from the back page of somebody’s discarded
Ellsworth American
and tucked it between the pages of his old Loeb edition of Herodotus, measuring with a rueful snort the remaining unread inches. He had never been a man to leave a job unfinished, a fact on which he supposed he must have been relying, perhaps unconsciously, in undertaking to reread, for what must be the eighth or ninth time, this most garrulous of classical historians.

As the bus disgorged its first passengers, Jack got momentarily lost in contemplation of the disembarking soldiers, home on leave from the very ancient battlefields as in the book he was reading, from Babylon and Bactria, their camouflage fatigues the color of ashes and dust, the pattern jagged, like the pixels of a computer screen. Then Natalie’s hair kindled in the bus’s doorway, and he held up the little green-backed volume to catch her attention. He could tell from the look of shock that crossed her face in the instant before she smiled that pancreatic cancer had taken even worse a toll on him than he’d imagined. Her lips moved.

He lifted a finger, motioning her to wait. He pressed a button on his hearing aid and said, “Sweetheart! You made it.”

“Hey, Grandpa.” Her eyes were bleary, the red dent in her cheek from whatever she had been leaning against reminding him of how she used to look as a child, waking from an afternoon nap. Or perhaps it was her mother he was remembering, an image coming from farther away and longer ago. He took note of her pallor, the bruised look of the skin under
her green eyes, and thought that she had likely come to Maine as much to flee her own troubles as to lose herself in the alleviation of his. Indeed the possibility of her finding consolation in worry over him was one of the reasons—not that you needed a reason to want to see your only granddaughter—he had agreed so quickly when she first called to say that she wanted to make the trip.

“Are you hungry?” he said. “There’s not much in Bangor, but if you can wait, the Grill’s open. I could take you there.”

“You could take me? You drove?” she said.

He just blinked at her, tempted to employ one of her own favorite childhood expressions:
Duh
. He had been expecting this line of inquiry.

“How else would I pick you up?” he said.

“I figured you’d call a taxi!”

“Dave had a fare. Round-trip to Portland. I couldn’t very well ask him to turn it down, not in the off-season. Business is slow.”

“Oh, is it?” She shook her head with disapproval that was affectionate but sincere. “So this isn’t about you being stubborn and proud?”

“They make a great pumpkin pie at the Grill,” he said. “How’s that sound?”

She reached for his chin, and with a mixture of tenderness and reproof picked the bit of Kleenex from his shaving cut.

“Why didn’t you call a Bangor cab?” she said, having inherited the full genetic complement of Wiseman stubbornness, if not pride.

“A Bangor cab!” he said, sincerely horrified by the notion. “Those guys only take Route One! We’d be stuck in mill traffic for hours, this time of day.”

By now they had reached the car, a Volvo DL wagon that for twenty-three years, in the summertime, over breaks and sabbaticals, had ferried first Jack and his wife, then Jack alone, from New York City to Maine and back again. He wondered if it was worth leaving the blue behemoth to Natalie. Like all his possessions—like everything that chance or fate had ever entrusted to his care—he had kept the car in impeccable order. Properly maintained, it might run for years to come. But Natalie might not care to pay the steep New York parking fees. She might, once he was gone, never again care to make the long drive to Red Hook, Maine. And though she was, and would always be, his
tzatzkeleh
, his little treasure, his love for her was as free of illusion as it was of reservation. There was little evidence in the way that she had recently conducted her life to suggest that she knew how to maintain anything at all.

“Do you think you’ll want the car?” he said as he opened the driver’s-side door for her. He walked around, opened his own door, got in, and handed her the key. “Or should I put an ad in the paper?”

“Don’t sell it right now. We’ll need it while I’m up here. Unless you’re planning on coming down to New York?”

“There’s hospice here, same as there. Except here I’m in my own home, and in New York I’d be forced into some misbegotten nursing home. Thanks to the grateful generosity of Columbia University.”

“Grandpa, you weren’t really living in that apartment. You were there like, what? Three months a year?”

“More like four.”

“They have so many full-time faculty members to house. You can’t blame them—”

“Forty-six years, Natalie. It wouldn’t have killed them to make it forty-six and a half.”

She started the engine and then let it idle, warming it up the way his regimen required. They sat listening to the engine in the chill of the car’s interior, giving him ample time to regret his bitter words. Having faced or lived through some of the choicest calamities, both personal and world historical, that the twentieth century had to offer, Jack Wiseman had rarely given way to bitterness until now. He supposed it must be a symptom of the disease that was killing him.

“You could stay with me,” Natalie said at last. “There’s plenty of room now that Daniel’s moved out.”

“I’m here,” Jack said. “And you’re here now, too.”

“Yes.”

“Might I ask how long you plan to stay?”

“As long as you need me.”

“It shouldn’t be too long.”

“Grandpa.”

“Anyway. Good of the firm to let you go.”

“I had vacation saved up.” She put the car into reverse with a show, again for his benefit, of checking the rearview and both side mirrors. Then she sighed and put the car back into park. “Actually, that’s not true.”

“What’s not true?”

“I’m not taking my vacation time. I quit.”

“You quit?” He thumped his hand on the dashboard. “To take care of me? That’s absolutely unacceptable, Natalie. I won’t allow it.”

“It wasn’t because of you. They would have given me leave.” She eased out into the street, speeding up slowly so as not to risk a skid on the icy road or, more likely, his reprimand for taking it too fast.

“Why then?” he said.

“Why.” She sounded exasperated, with his question, with herself, maybe just with having to tell the story again. “Well, I was in a coworker’s office, and she was responding to a set of interrogatories. Those are, like, questions from opposing counsel in a lawsuit.”

He waited.

“They were from Daniel’s firm.”

“He wrote the questions?”

“No. He’s in the corporate department. This was a litigation document.”

“And?” He noticed that she had put her blinker on. “Not Route One,” he said sharply. “Keep going until you hit Forty-Six.”

BOOK: Love and Treasure
11.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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