Ayelet Waldman's novel Love and Treasure is set in Austria at the end of World War II and spans decades and generations. As the novel opens, Jack Wiseman asks his grand-daughter, Natalie, to locate the owner of a peacock pendant, knowing that he will never live to find the owner himself.
It is 1945 and Wiseman is an American soldier tasked with watching and keeping track of the items taken from Jews, now stored on the Hungarian Gold Train that his country has managed to gain control of. The many sets of china, jewelry, even bedding have all been turned over by Jews who were given a receipt for their possessions and the assurance that they would be given them back when the war was over. Now Jack feels guilt as he is forced to give some of these items to American officers who outrank him. Jack's guilt is even greater when he meets Ilona, a Hungarian Jew who lost her possessions to the Nazis.
Moving from Maine to Austria and even Israel, Waldman surrounds Natalie and Jack with an assortment of interesting characters including a family of dwarfs that were being used by Mengele.
Love and Treasure is being published on the heels of the movie Monument Men's release, and I can't help but hope that the movie, which I have yet to see, is as good as this book.