Not only is Milton an excellent writer; she engages the reader in an ongoing conversation, and every page holds one’s interest. She reveals her innermost thoughts and reactions to her hosts in the upper-middle class, intelligent, and kind English family which she and her sister, Ruth, were fortunate to join for six years as children on the Kindertransport out of Germany. Her descriptions of the English people, their homes, gardens, and villages; their mores, attitudes, and customs; as well as her and her sister’s reactions, are peerless. How touching, the father of the family’s sensitivity, kindness and sense of justice — he, who at first might have seemed phlegmatic. The mother has a natural empathy with people, especially for the two little Jewish girls who have come under her maternal care; she even consults by mail with their mother, a refugee in America, for her permission on issues of religion and education. Milton also subtly comments on the transition of England from a colonial power to a lesser one, demonstrated by the metaphor suggested in the title. (The tiger in question is the hide of an animal shot on a hunt in India, converted into a rug, assigned a place of honor in a drawing room or library, and which, over the years, becomes smelly, moth eaten and shabby. From the height of British history to the heights of the room designated for the family’s discards, the attic.) It is also a coming-of-age story when the author is reunited with her dynamic, but less beautiful, less noble mother, once a physician in Germany, who, as a refugee in America, must clean homes before she can slowly fight her way back to her previous profession. A memoir not to be missed, it has humor, philosophy, politics, culture, and personal all in one book.
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.