The Things We Cherished: Book summary and reviews of The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff

The Things We Cherished

A Novel

By Pam Jenoff

The Things We Cherished
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Set during the Holocaust and rich in historical detail, this suspenseful story of love and betrayal by the author of The Kommandant's Girl is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances.

Spanning decades and continents, The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attor­neys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes.

The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, mysteri­ously refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor.

Rich in historical detail, Jenoff's astonishing new work is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A powerful novel rich in period detail, The Things We Cherished is a fascinating contemporary and historical drama, a unique glimpse into a disappearing world, and a reminder that past and present often come together in unexpected ways." - Booklist

"Unlike much romantic historical suspense, this is quiet and credible - even the surprise twists - further cementing Jenoff's reputation for adeptly using the harsh realities of WWII Europe as a context for a timeless love story." - Publishers Weekly

"...Jenoff pins her tale on a near impossibility. The author might know her European history, but she hasn't quite figured out how to tell a convincing tale." - Library Journal

"[A] skillfully rendered tale of undying love, unthinkable loss and the relentless grip of the past on the present." - Kirkus Reviews

"Pam Jenoff weaves an intriguing and intelligent story with a delicacy that is captivating. The triangular love stories are threaded together with skill and passion, while at the heart of the tale ticks the clock that holds the answers. Jenoff evokes in touching detail a significant point in twentieth-century history and makes it resonate for readers today." - Kate Furnivall, author of the national bestseller The Russian Concubine

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Patty S. (Towson, MD)
Not enough of what I expected
Pam Jenoff has used a handmade anniversary clock to move this story through time. It was an interesting way to bring the characters together, though it was a little confusing, at first. I want to have liked this book more than I did. I found the romance distracting from the story I really wanted to read. Charlotte was an interesting character, when she wasn’t rehashing her previous relationship with Jack’s brother.

There is so much historical fiction from this time period that it’s hard to shed new light on it. Jenoff comes very close to doing so by focusing on the possible war crimes of the defendant in the case, but she lost some of the momentum with me by spending too much time trying to write a romance novel at the same time.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Marlys D. (Grand Rapids, MI)
The Things We Cherished
I found this book very engaging. The back-and-forth between present-day and the past, and the tracking of the clock through history were well done and held my interest throughout. I did think there could have been a bit more historical background in the "past" chapters (for instance, details of what happened to Johann's wife) but I did like following the clock's travels. Some of the characters could have been developed a bit more as well, but overall I found it a good read if not particularly deep. I think it would make a pretty good "beach read" because it isn't too long or detailed--easy to pick up/put down without losing the thread of the story & characters.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Beth (USA)
The Things We Cherished
I selected this book because I love historical fiction, and I particularly enjoy things set in WWII. However, while I did like the book, it was not a "must read" for me, mostly because the romance aspect is predominant, as opposed to the historical narrative. From the synopsis, I expected more in the way of courtroom and suspense elements. To be fair, I don't tend to read fiction with a strong romance component, so I am probably not the right audience for this one.

The book was very well-written, and the story was engrossing. I just expected something different.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Sandra M. (Valparaiso, IN)
The Things We Cherished
The Things We Cherished is a powerful reminder of horrific war tragedies and the stories of those who survived and those who did not. (I recently read Sarah's Key and this novel complimented that reading experience.)

The one thing that confused me was the changing character narration, time period and location of each new chapter. I had to stop and really think about who each character was and the context in which I knew him/her since things jumped from 1903 through 2009, with numerous stops in between.

The Things We Cherished is a good read and I recommend it.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Leslie, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY
The Things We Cherished
Perhaps expectation set my standards too high, as I've been wanting to read Jenoff's books for ages. I found this book to be ok for a quick summer read. The plot was interesting, but the characters were kind of flat, and I wanted to be "convinced" more of their feelings rather than told. Lots of cliches in the writing also bothered me, but I will certainly try another of her books.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Linda Z. (Corydon, IN) Crawford Co. Library
The Things We Cherished
This book should appeal to both women and men who are interested in World War II, the Holocaust and would also appeal to mystery lovers. I had read two previous books by the author and enjoyed both. The moral dilemma was very interesting. Was Roger right or wrong in what he did or is there no easy answer? I intend to read other books by this author.

...16 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Pam Jenoff is the author of The Kommandant's Girl (a Quill Award finalist, a Book Sense pick, and a finalist for the ALA Sophie Brody Award), The Diplomat's Wife, Almost Home, and Hidden Things. She attended George Washington Univer­sity, Cambridge University in England, where she received a master's in history, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army and State Department Officer, she lives in Philadelphia where she works as an attorney. Visit her website at www.pamjenoff.com.

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