It is my pleasure to host the Founder of the House blog tour today, with a post on the matter of writing fiction for people from another time!
Reading historical fiction fires our imaginations in the same way as a visit to a museum or art gallery. We feel we are among the people who came before us. Like us in many ways, but very different in others. Although we share some of the same joys and fears, much of our experience and theirs is determined by the times in which we live. The author Naomi Jacob was from another time to ours, and her life was shaped by the events of that era. With The Founder of the House, she chose to write about people from a different age to her own, who were equally affected by the times in which they lived.
Naomi Jacob was born in Ripon, Yorkshire in 1884. Her mother's family had a centuries-old association with the town; her grandfather was twice the mayor of Ripon and owned a local hotel. Her paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had fled to England from a pogrom in Western Prussia, during which his parents were brutally murdered. Jacob was greatly influenced by her part-Jewish heritage, and spoke out against anti-Semitism in her work and personal life.
When Jacob was a young woman, the music hall was at the peak of its popularity. She was drawn to the music halls of Leeds, where she met the actress and singer Marguerite Broadfoote. This introduced her to the theatrical world, and star names such as the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Sarah Bernhardt and Marie Lloyd. Jacob began acting in West End and touring productions, once playing opposite John Geilgud.
Politics was another passion of hers. She joined the Women's Social and Political Union in 1912, campaigning for women's suffrage, and later she stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament.
Bad health took Jacob to Italy, where she set up home in a villa on Lake Garda. During the Nazi occupation she was forced to leave for a time, and returned to England where she joined the Entertainments National Service Association, entertaining the British armed forces.
The Founder of the House, which was written not long before the Nazis came to power in Germany, is the first in a seven-novel series, The Gollantz Saga, about several generations of a Jewish family. It begins in early nineteenth century Vienna, and follows the coming of age of Emmanuel Gollantz, the founding father of the House of Gollantz.
The Gollantz family are well-respected and run a celebrated antiques business, but as Jews they are prohibited from Viennese high society. Emmanuel's father, Hermann, is acutely aware of this prejudice, and goes to extreme lengths to protect the honour and good name of his family. Emmanuel, meanwhile, falls in love with a member of the royal court's inner circle. He risks great danger and scandal, but also unwittingly finds himself at the centre of royal life. The cast of characters in The Founder of the House includes greedy, unprincipled in-laws; idealistic young friends; loyal servants; impetuous royals and fickle lovers. Jacob entertains with a tale of vice and virtue during a fascinating time in European history.
The Gollantz family are people from another time, but their lives encompass universal themes with which most of us can identify. The Founder of the House is a compelling, often witty, observation of family life, love and honour, told against a captivating historical backdrop.
Publication Date: August 23, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in nineteenth century Paris, Vienna and London, this is a novel about family ties and rivalries, love and ambition.
The Founder of the House introduces us to Emmanuel Gollantz, the son of a Jewish antique dealer, Hermann Gollantz.
Hermann lives his life according to the principles of loyalty, honesty and honour instilled in him as a child. But these ideals are ruthlessly exploited by his wife's family, threatening everything that is important to him. Protecting his beloved wife, Rachel, from the truth carries a great cost.
As a young man, Emmanuel, becomes involved with the inner circle of the Viennese Court, where his passion for the married baroness, Caroline Lukoes, has far-reaching consequences both for himself and the House of Gollantz.
The Founder of the House is the first book in the bestselling Gollantz Saga - an historical family saga tracing the lives and loves of the Gollantz family over several generations. This seven-novel series explores how one family's destiny is shaped by the politics and attitudes of the time, as well as by the choices and actions of its own members.
The Gollantz Saga Titles
Book One: Founder of the House
Book Two: That Wild Lie
Book Three: Young Emmanuel
Book Four: Four Generations
Book Five: Private Gollantz
Book Six: Gollantz: London, Paris, Milan
Book Seven: Gollantz & Partners
Praise for The Gollantz Saga
"Recommended. Ms Jacob writes skilfully and with that fine professional assurance we have come to expect of her." The Times
"Impressive." London Evening Standard
"A good family chronicle." Kirkus Reviews
"Besides the interest of the plot, Miss Jacob's book has much to recommend it. The style of the novel is unimpeachable, marked by sincerity, dignity and a sense of the dramatic. I can safely recommend "The Founder of the House." Western Mail (Perth)
Buy the eBook
About the Author
Naomi Jacob (1884-1964) was a prolific author, biographer and broadcaster. She is perhaps best known for her bestselling seven-novel series, The Gollantz Saga, which traces several generations of the Gollantz family in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Jacob had a mixed heritage, which influenced her life and work. Her paternal grandfather was a Jewish tailor who had escaped the pogroms of Western Prussia and settled in England, while her mother's family had strong Yorkshire roots. Her maternal grandfather was the two-time mayor of Ripon in Yorkshire. He also owned a hotel in the town. Her father was headmaster of the local school.
Jacob loved the theatre and became a character actress on stage and in film, notably opposite John Geilgud in The Ringer (1936). She also associated with the Du Mauriers, Henry Irving, Marie Lloyd and Sarah Bernhardt.
She published her first novel, "Jacob Usher" in 1925. It became a bestseller.
In 1928 she appeared for the defence of Radclyffe Hall’s "The Well of Loneliness", and developed a friendship with Hall and her companion Una Troubridge.
After suffering with tuberculosis, in 1930 she left England for Italy, where she lived for most of the rest of her life. She lived in a villa in Sirmione on Lake Garda, which she called "Casa Mickie" (she was known to friends and family as "Mickie").
In 1935 she was awarded the Eichelberger International Humane Award, for outstanding achievement in the field of humane endeavour, for her novel "Honour Come Back". She rejected the award when she discovered that another recipient of the award had been Adolf Hitler, for "Mein Kampf".
Jacob was involved in politics – she stood as a Labour PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and was a suffragette.
In 1940, she was evacuated back to England when Italy entered the Second World War. She joined the Entertainments National Service Association, becoming famous for her flamboyant appearance— crew cut hair, and wearing a monocle and First World War Women’s Legion uniform.
She returned to Sirmione before the end of the war, helping Jewish refugees in the town. Over the years, she frequently returned to the UK, and in the 1950s and early 1960s was regularly to be heard on the BBC radio programme "Woman's Hour".
She wrote the seven-novel Gollantz saga about several generations of a Jewish family, tracing their path from Vienna in the early nineteenth century to establishing a life and antique business in England in the twentieth century. It is a saga about family loyalty, honour and love, while also reflecting on the politics and ideals of the era.
The Founder of the House Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, November 10
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, November 11
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, November 12
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse
Thursday, November 13
Guest Post at Madame Gilflurt
Friday, November 14
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Sunday, November 16
Review at Unshelfish
Monday, November 17
Excerpt at Mina's Bookshelf
Tuesday, November 18
Spotlight at Mel's Shelves
Wednesday, November 19
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Sunday, November 23
Review & Interview at A Bibliophile's Reverie
Monday, November 24
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, November 25
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, November 26
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, November 27
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, November 28
Review & Excerpt at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book