One of my favorite World War II novels is Those who save us by Jenna Blum. It has a very compelling story, it is full of unforgettable images and it is simply beautifully written. This is a book that I have been talking about for years, as I wanted to make sure that everyone I know has read this book. Jenna’s second novel is Stormchasers and it is completely different from her previous novel, and I love that it is. A writer needs to stir things up for herself and her readers, and she has done a great job with this modern story about a brother and sister. Recently, I was in a bookstore and found Jenna’s book on display in the new section. It was published in America in May of 2010 but it just arrived in the Netherlands. Those who save us was a hit here in the Netherlands, and Stormchasers should be too.

This is an example of international publishing today. Once a book comes out in the U. S., there is a delay in coming overseas. There are many reasons for this, but one important one is that it needs to be translated. And it gets a new cover and a new Dutch title, obviously. 

But it is also true with British and American books…they don’t come out the same day, even though no translation is needed. And sometimes they even change the title. As an example, I just read an absolutely wonderful British novel called Mr. Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons. In America, the book is called Mr. Rosenblum dreams in English. The contents of the book are exactly the same. And no matter what the title, this is simply a charming, funny, poignant story about a man who desperately wants to fit in to the British life after getting out ofGermany in the late 1930’s. Mr. Rosenblum wants to blend in and not stand out, he wants to be like British wall paper and just be part of his new world. The main thrust of the story is that Jack Rosenblum, eight years after the second world war, has a dream to build a golf course inDorset and truly become an English gentleman. But he has a very bumpy journey in having his dream come true. 

So here are two wonderful writers to check out: Jenna Blum and Natasha Solomons. Both are very different, but the main thing is that they are both great storytellers. And that is what a good book is all about…a great story. Go ahead, treat yourself to a good read.

P.S. Jenna Blum came to the Netherlands this week for a very brief book tour. For those of you who know me, you know that I have been a fan of hers for a few years and am lucky enough to know her. I was even luckier today as I got to see her while she visited a bookstore. She was as gracious and classy as ever and so grateful for the positive reception she got. There are people who are great doctors, there are talented pianists and painters, there are brilliant scholars, and then there are great writers. Jenna fits into this category. If you have not read her two novels, I urge you to do so.

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  • Aledys Ver  On April 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I suppose the differences in titles and covers between American and British editions of the same books, respond to differences in the sensibilities and tastes of readers on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ve never paid much attention to this detail, but now that I come to think of it, it should be interesting to investigate a bit further how this works …

    How nice that you got to see one of your favourite authors! The two books you mention sound tempting – I will definitely find out more and add them to my wishlists for future reading. Thanks for sharing this!

  • jo  On April 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Jane – I’m loving reading your blog! Picked up a few ideas from it to introduce to our small new book group, “WWJR” (What Would Jane Read)! So glad you are enjoying your new adventure…… keep us posted. All the best.

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