This week in #litchat we’re debuting a reoccurring theme called Plot Points in History.” History is rich with the drama, conflict, romance, humor and mystery that makes good reading. Creating a theme tied to specific points in history allows us to examine the era and the books that have sprung from that period. We understand that these critical events are more than just scenarios for authors to use as plot fodder, and we never want to trivialize the milestones, both tragic and triumphant, that have shaped human history. Our first theme in “Plot Points in History” is The Holocaust.
Pam Jenoff, guest host of #litchat on Friday, September 2, is author of five novels. Her debut novel, the Quill Award winning bestseller, The Kommodant’s Girl, set in motion a career for writing historical fiction with specific interest in the European theater of World War II. Her most recent novel, The Things We Cherished, takes that theme into Nazi concentration camps, while also weaving through history. The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attoreys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes. The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor.
Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.
Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.
Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney both at a firm and in-house in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers.
Follow Pam Jenoff on Twitter: @PamJenoff.