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Friday, January 9, 2009

Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke

Have you ever read a book and thought how great the movie of it would be? This is one of those stories! "Keeping Hannah Waiting" is a beautiful and compelling story by veteran author and child of two Holocaust survivors, Dave Clarke. This is a classic romance wrapped in a mystery and knitted together by art, history, and Holocaust.

Kate McBride inherits an attic full of books from her mother. One of the books, titled "Die Zulassung, 1940" contains a real surprise - a breathtaking painting of a young woman lying in a field of lavender. Only after she sells the painting for $50 million does she find that the painting was stolen by the Nazis from its rightful owner. Unable to get the painting back, Kate wants to give the money from its sale to the original owner - if she can find that person. Solving the mystery of who is the painting's rightful owner takes Kate on a journey of the most interesting kind, one that runs right through the heart.

To show us how the painting was created, the story jumps back in time to Russia in 1910. The romance between an artist and the beauty that eventually becomes his model is a familiar one. If you liked "Titanic", then you will definitely like "Keeping Hannah Waiting."

This story covers a lot of history. It is rich with culture and the characters are real enough to jump right off the page. Its scant 267 pages is simply not enough to tell a story this big. This shortness really hurts in two ways. The description of the end of the romance between the model and the artist occurs in just two pages. If that part of the story had been written as tenderly and compellingly as the rest of this really good book, then it would have been great. The story of how the Nazis steal the painting happens in just a few pages as well leaving the reader with a sense of "what might have been" rather than the "wow" that is the rest of this book.

"Keeping Hannah Waiting" is good and definitely worth every minute of the read. Another fifty pages would have made this great. I hope the author adds those missing pages at some point in the future. The quality of the writing and the powerful elements of the story make this a pleasure to read.

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