Publication Date: August 23, 2014
Set in nineteenth century Paris, Vienna and London, this is a novel about family ties and rivalries, love and ambition.
The Founder of the House introduces us to Emmanuel Gollantz, the son of a Jewish antique dealer, Hermann Gollantz.
Originally published in 1925 is quite evident. The story is somewhat dated but the literary aspect compensates, creating a narrative fueling the story as opposed to relying on characters and dialog. The wonderful prose reveals the story and what a story it tells. Given this is Book 1 in the saga, you sense it is setting the background and prelude of what’s to come.
The Gollantz family is Jewish, stereotypes and differences are thoroughly explored, class division is addressed. Discrimination and equality are presented, Jacob was Jewish so no doubt part of her thoughts and experiences are assumed inserted. Along with social issues, the story is also a love story involving the generations and their varying experiences with different forms of love – father-son, brother-brother, husband-wife, unrequited and frivolous love. The characters are emotional leaving the reader with their experiences creating a level of sentimentality.
Jacob demonstrates her writing ability as well as her intellect. Her prose is memorable as well as provoking. Her desire for equality is evident in this novel. A fine work of literature set in the 1800’s in Europe with all its grandeur, opulence and class division. Looking forward to reading more of this well crafted family saga.
The Gollantz Saga Titles
Book One: Founder of the House
Book Two: That Wild Lie
Book Three: Young Emmanuel
Book Four: Four Generations
Book Five: Private Gollantz
Book Six: Gollantz: London, Paris, Milan
Book Seven: Gollantz & Partners
About the Author
Naomi Jacob (1884-1964) was a prolific author, biographer and broadcaster. She is perhaps best known for her bestselling seven-novel series, The Gollantz Saga, which traces several generations of the Gollantz family in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Jacob had a mixed heritage, which influenced her life and work. Her paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had escaped the pogroms of Western Prussia and settled in England, while her mother’s family had strong Yorkshire roots. Her maternal grandfather was the two-time mayor of Ripon in Yorkshire. He also owned a hotel in the town. Her father was headmaster of the local school.
Jacob loved the theatre and became a character actress on stage and in film, notably opposite John Geilgud in The Ringer (1936). She also associated with the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Marie Lloyd and Sarah Bernhardt.
She published her first novel, “Jacob Usher” in 1925. It became a bestseller.
In 1928 she appeared for the defence of Radclyffe Hall’s “The Well of Loneliness”, and developed a friendship with Hall and her companion Una Troubridge.
After suffering with tuberculosis, in 1930 she left England for Italy, where she lived for most of the rest of her life. She lived in a villa in Sirmione on Lake Garda, which she called “Casa Mickie” (she was known to friends and family as “Mickie”).
In 1935 she was awarded the Eichelberger International Humane Award, for outstanding achievement in the field of humane endeavour, for her novel “Honour Come Back”. She rejected the award when she discovered that another recipient of the award had been Adolf Hitler, for “Mein Kampf”.
Jacob was involved in politics – she stood as a Labour PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and was a suffragette.
In 1940, she was evacuated back to England when Italy entered the Second World War. She joined the Entertainments National Service Association, becoming famous for her flamboyant appearance— crew cut hair, and wearing a monocle and First World War Women’s Legion uniform.
She returned to Sirmione before the end of the war, helping Jewish refugees in the town. Over the years, she frequently returned to the UK, and in the 1950s and early 1960s was regularly to be heard on the BBC radio programme “Woman’s Hour”.
She wrote the seven-novel Gollantz saga about several generations of a Jewish family, tracing their path from Vienna in the early nineteenth century to establishing a life and antique business in England in the twentieth century. It is a saga about family loyalty, honour and love, while also reflecting on the politics and ideals of the era.
The Founder of the House Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, November 10
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, November 11
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Saturday, November 15
Guest Post at Madame Gilflurt
Sunday, November 16
Review at Unshelfish
Monday, November 17
Excerpt at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 18
Spotlight at Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, November 19
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Sunday, November 23
Review & Interview at A Bibliophile’s Reverie
Monday, November 24
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 26
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, November 27
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, November 28
Review & Excerpt at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book