Five Amber Beads

Richard Aronowitz
  • Review
By – April 16, 2012
Five Amber Beads alter­nates chap­ters to tell two inter­est­ing sto­ries, both of which deal with mem­o­ry. Charley Bern­stein, an Eng­lish­man, meets and befriends an elder­ly man, Christo­pher, who has total amne­sia. Charley has inher­it­ed his uncle’s diary, writ­ten dur­ing his time in a labor camp dur­ing the Third Reich. His inter­est in research­ing his past by meet­ing up with an old fam­i­ly con­nec­tion in Israel who can tell him more about the diary par­al­lels his work as an art his­to­ri­an research­ing the prove­nance of a cer­tain Modigliani paint­ing that is up for sale. He takes Christo­pher along with him to Eng­land and Israel in the hope of trig­ger­ing Christopher’s mem­o­ry, so that he can regain his own past. Aronowitz’s style is descrip­tive and haunt­ing, and though Five Amber Beads is a quick read, it does not have a neat end­ing. This nov­el is based on an actu­al diary and the author’s real desire to dis­cov­er the truth of his past, which was kept from him by his mother.
Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams is a Cuban-born, Brook­lyn-raised, Long Island-resid­ing mom. She is Hadas­sah Nas­sau’s One Region One Book chair­la­dy, a free­lance essay­ist, and a cer­ti­fied yoga instruc­tor who has loved review­ing books for the JBC for the past ten years.

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