A story of love and war . . . When young Clara Simon suddenly quit her steady job in Ernest Maxwell Abbott's law firm over his increasingly shabby treatment of Jewish clients, she soon realized the seriousness of her actions. Giving up any job in struggling, post-WWI London meant taking a chance. Clara knew her family at 21 Aldgate would not be supportive. With that in mind she did the only thing a Londoner could do: she looked for a quiet place to have a cup of tea and think over her hasty decision. A coincidental meeting with a former Abbott employee resulted in the suggestion of a job offer in Chelsea. Clara, reluctant to consider venturing into affluent Chelsea, finally agreed to meet with the important French artist, Paul Maze, who needed an assistant to help write his memoir of his work as a field artist during WWI. Her experiences in his employ left her profoundly changed by the ghosts of war, the Nazis - and by Paul Maze. A story of class distinction, a people and their traditions, a family and its fate, a country and its fight against Fascism, and a woman with a secret she must take to her grave. Set in 1930s and 1940s in London, England, France and Germany in the chaotic time between World War I and into World War II. Based on true-life characters and events, 21 ALDGATE is a story about a place in time that no longer exists -- except in rapidly fading memories.
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by Patricia Polacco
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"Enchanting and insightful, this story of an extended Jewish family in London around the time of WWII is based on the life of the authorÕs mother. Rebecca Shelbourn-Timm warmly recounts the details of Clara SimonÕs fascinating life with her vibrant family in the working-class East End and her job as assistant to French artist Paul Maze in upper-class Chelsea. Maze plays a major role, and Shelbourn-TimmÕs French phrases float easily into the narration. She portrays ClaraÕs parents and husband with Cockney color, but her straight delivery of ClaraÕs voiceÑposh and crispÑleaves the listener wondering whether Clara could speak so differently from her relatives. Nevertheless, a perceptive historical novel is made more fascinating by its autobiographical roots. N.M.C. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine"
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