Through the Barriers of Time
by McKenna S.
The Golden Peacock tells the story of Jana Ludken, a young German Jewish girl who was able to escape the horrors of concentration camps after she was shipped to an adoptive family, but it also meant she was separated from her brother, Max. This was not only a physical separation, as Jana was also forced to relinquish her Jewish identity. In many ways, this is a novel about identity- how identity can shift and change and whether experiences or family history shape who you are. I’m not going to give anything away, but one of my favorite parts of the story took place when Jana was forced to leave Max, and he used their favorite childhood song to comfort her.
“Do not be stubborn, my Golden Peacock.You will always carry being Jewish inside of you.”
The other part of the narrative takes place fifty years in the future, in 1997, when Rainee, an aspiring author, decides to explore the past while in search of a new book idea. These two narratives are interwoven, with one told from Jana’s perspective and the other from Renee’s. The combination of these perspectives adds significant dimension to the novel, although I felt in some ways the narratives were unbalanced. While Jana’s narrative, which is in first person, is told with great detail and emotion, I found Rainee’s to be less so. That being said, she was still an engaging character. I just wish I could have learned more about her background as well as her goals and aspirations. For instance, why was she so willing to delve into the mystery of Dr. Martin’s family?
For me, the most engaging and memorable character was Jana. I loved reading about her struggles and triumphs as she was put in a situation no child should ever have to be in- being forcibly separated from her family. Jana’s narrative really reinforces that this is not about the specific experiences endured by Holocaust survivors but rather a story about trauma and how trauma can reemerge and manifest itself in many ways throughout one’s life.
The ending of the story was certainly bittersweet and left me with an emotional punch in the gut. In fact, I had to physically put the book down and take a deep breath because so many emotions were running through my head. However, the ending also left me feeling hopeful, as Jana’s story demonstrated the power of human relationships. Despite the premise of the story, this is not a book about the Holocaust. Unlike Night Or Rena’s Promise, the Golden Peacock does not center around specific details or even the fight for survival that took place within concentration camps. Rather, this is a story of the aftermath of the Holocaust- not the immediate aftermath, but the effects that manifested years and even decades later and continue to impact the characters today. While this novel is mainly about trauma, it is also about relationships and the power of love and human connection that transcends the barriers of time.
Combine a mystery, the Holocaust, a love story, an unexpected kinship between women of two generations, and the result is this poignant novel, THE GOLDEN PEACOCK. Successful author, Rainee Allen, is experiencing writer’s block. Rummaging through her desk, she comes across a souvenir she had received years before at the U.S. Holocaust Museum; an identification/passport of a survivor. Rainee had kept the souvenir because the survivor’s birthday shared her birthday (though 30 years apart). She decides to try to find out more information on this German girl named Jana Lutken. Realizing she may have an idea for her next novel, she travels to London to begin that research. Eventually, she does find Jana, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Rainee develops a relationship with her and finds out more about her past. As she uncovers long-held secrets, Rainee becomes entangled in events that put her in danger and leads her to relationships with two men; the handsome director of Jana’s nursing facility, and the visiting doctor, who mysteriously serves as a trigger causing Jana to relive the horrors of the Holocaust. Rainee embarks on a dangerous road involving Nazi hunters and Nazi sympathizers. Unsure which ones are following her, Rainee enters a world of mystery and suspense in the back alleys of London. The juxtaposition of past and present makes for an interesting blend of two stories which seamlessly meld. The reader will be surprised with the shocking twist that occurs in THE GOLDEN PEACOCK. They’ll never see it coming.
Lauren B. Grossman is originally from Massachusetts but now resides in Southern Arizona with her husband, two children, three dogs, and a desert tortoise. She earned a degree in theatre and has performed in, designed sets, directed and produced numerous productions. Lauren co-founded, co-published, and co-edited a performing arts newspaper. Because of the success of that newspaper, she and her co-publisher created a weekly radio talk show. She has had articles published and has earned awards for her short stories.
Visit Ms. Grossman HERE to find out more about her books!