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The Prosperous Thief Paperback – November 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741144698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741144697
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,573,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Goldsmith's gripping Holocaust epic begins with two German children: Heinrik Heck, born poor in 1910, and Alice Lewin, who is six when Kristallnacht shatters her elegant secular Jewish family. As an army deserter in 1945, Heinrick comes across Martin, a typhoid-stricken concentration camp survivor, and makes a desperate choice. "There's his own future to consider, he tells himself as he squats down and lays his hands one each side of Martin's head. He twists." Martin is Alice's father; Heinrik, having killed Martin, takes part of Martin's identity and reinvents himself as Henry Lewin, a Jew, and starts a new life in Australia. Alice, saved by the Kindertransport, lands in California, marries a non-Jew and erases the un-American lilt in her voice. But her son, Raphe, is obsessed with the Jewish grandfather with whom he shares a passion for volcanoes. His urging sends Alice to Australia, where she confronts Henry Lewin. Henry dies; Alice dies. Raphe, guardian of the truth, goes to Australia with such rage inside him, it seems he might murder Henry's daughter. Despite a melodramatic ending on the rim of a volcano and a few lapses in craft and language ("loathe" for "loath"), Australian Goldsmith's fifth novel has undeniable power. (Nov.)
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Review

"A riveting tale . . . Compulsively readable, almost hypnotic in its ability to draw the reader in."  —Kirkus


"A twisting, turning, tantalisingly open-ended moral and romantic thriller." —Advertiser


"An epic tale...a rare novel; endowed with intelligence and beauty."  —Canberra Times


"A novel about theft and appropriation...as much as it is an attempt to understand the Holocaust's dark shadow."  —The Courier-Mail

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Moresby on December 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Goldsmith's novel addresses the complicated issue of Jewish identity in Europe before WWII and the ramifications that we seek to come to terms with today. Many people today fail to understand the unbelievably complex and diverse Jewish make-up of Europe pre-WWII. This element is insightfully interwoven into the narrative.

The Prosperous Thief is an intriguing, multi-dimensional story that spans continents and generations. Novels with this much care and thoughtfulness are a real rarity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bhr on January 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
My copy (or rather, my library's copy) of this book states that it is "a twisting, turning, OPEN-ENDED moral and romantic thriller..."

Now, I usually ignore these blurbs because they tell you the book is better than sliced bread. In this case, I would not call it a thriller, romantic or not. But everything else... ESPECIALLY the open-ended part... is spot on.

The book kept me diving back in, even when it was so painful to read I wanted to scrub it from my psyche. I haven't felt such anger reading a book in a long time. This story, and its descriptions of the actions, intentions, and attitudes of Germans, Jews, Poles, Americans, hell, even Australian Lesbians, really evoked an incredible amount of angst.

But I hate open-endings in books. I really didn't like where this book left off.

I am glad, however, that I didn't read any of the descriptions or spoilers here on Amazon, though, because all the rest give away one of the (many) turns in the book. I prefered discovering them myself.

If you're masochistic, read this book. If you feel like you need to do literary penance for reading too much pulp or genre fiction - this is your volunteer work at the shelter. It is well written and thought provoking, but I had to read a fairy tale book afterward to bring some warmth back into my brain.

(*)>
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ASH on April 11, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The New York Times review as well as the Amazon reviewer prompted me to buy the book. As I thought, the Amazon reviewer totally misunderstood the reason for Heinrik to assume a Jewish identity, after WWII had ended. He was a Nazi and thus, he could cover up his crimes and escape, using a new identity. This was plausible.

I liked the entire story except for the ending.

The two seperate story lines are very believable, with one family's decendants wanting to ignore the past and the other dwelling on it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Adelman on December 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
I like the writing of A. Goldsmith, and was intrigued until the middle of the book. The character development of Heinrik and Henry along with their families was very fascinating in the beginning. The plot development lost me when Heinrik admitted to the granddaughter that he killed Henry for his identity. I could not figure out why he would do that since he could have just said that he saw him die based on his poor condition. I did not get the feeling that he admitted this because of any type of internal cleansing. Also, it did not make sense that he would want to adopt the identity of a Holocaust Jew during those times. I also found it odd that both Raphe and Laura would connect in the way that they did....in other words, the first half of the book was well done but it fell apart during the last half and became somewhat hard to believe.
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