Will Sam purge his guilty conscience before it’s too late? Will he atone for his offences and find solace in the final countdown?
Sam Fox spent his whole life running against the hands of time. He is now racing to set the record straight about secrets he and Hannah, his wife of 65 years, have been harbouring from their children and each other.
Hands of Gold, loosely based on real events, follows Sam on a journey that takes him from war-torn Europe at the turn of the 20th century, through the Great Depression and labour union reforms in America. Determined to make a lasting mark in his new homeland, Sam faces many hardships, not the least of which includes contracting tuberculosis, but he refuses to let this deter him from his ambitions. During a seemingly mundane workday, he shields 200 coworkers from a disgruntled gun-wielding employee. His actions saved the lives of many, making his escape from the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp – wherein his family suffered a deadly fate – a destined event.
As Sam comes to grips with his past, a gold watch from his grandmother, lost and buried during the Holocaust, will find its way back to him. Through this and other blessings, Sam learns to find the silver lining in his everyday struggles by holding onto his loved ones, along with a little self-reliance and even a few miracles.
Life was tough for a poor Jewish farming family in Eastern Europe at the turn of the century. Sam was born soon after into a very large family. Even the children worked to feed and clothe everyone. His older brothers and sisters had already emigrated to America and Sam is determined to follow. But that would mean breaking the law as he would be seen as avoiding the draught.
Eventually he makes it to Canada where he meets Hannah, his wife of 65 years. But Hannah lives in New York and only sees Sam when she visits her family in Montreal. For Sam to join her he must slip across the border illegally as he has no papers or passport. But having made it thus far, a little problem like that is not going to defeat him!
We follow Sam and Hannah though their successes, their failures, reasonably well off one day, poor as synagogue mice the next. We are there at the births of their five children, then their grandchildren and finally their last moments.
One thing that amazed me was how many times the family moved house. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Seven years in our first home. Twenty-four in the second and just coming up to ten years in the house we have now. They seemed to move every couple of years.
There’s a chapter where Sam is in a coma for the third time. He’s had TB for many years and has been given an experimental drug – streptomycin. At one point he has a dream. Everywhere is dark apart from a light up in the air. A baby comes to him and says ‘…we have to go out where it’s light. It’s too dark over here. Come with me Daddy. We have to go home.’ He says his little Eliza rescued him.
My father was a prisoner-of-war in Siberia. He later became ill with TB. Many years later he suffered a heart attack. It was dark and he was going towards the light (it’s more usual for those having a near death experience to say they were being drawn towards the light). He heard my youngest son (then about 6 years old) say to him ‘Come back. It’s not your time.’ And he woke up. Like Sam I can barely talk about it without choking up. My mother also had TB in the early 70s. I had to be checked every six months like Sam’s children when he became ill.
A historical novel inspired by true events, Hands of Gold could represent the lives of so many impoverished Jewish families throughout the 20th century. I would say my mother’s included, but her family were wealthy and didn’t leave Europe until the late 1930s to come to England. However, there was so much in this story that I recognised and could relate to. Even if you know very little about the Jews (apart from their persecution during the Second World War), I’m sure you will find this book as fascinating as I did.
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours
About the Author
Hands of Gold capitalizes on award-winning author Roni Robbins’ 35 years as a published writer. Currently an editor/writer for Medscape/WebMD after serving as associate editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times/The Times of Israel, she has a seasoned history as a staff reporter for daily and weekly newspapers and as a freelancer for national, regional and online publications.
Robbins’ freelance articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, Forbes, the New York Daily News, Adweek, WebMD and Healthline. She wrote for the Mother Nature Network; The Forward; FromTheGrapevine; and Hadassah magazine, among others. Robbins was also a staff writer for Florida Today/USA Today, The Birmingham News and the Atlanta Business Chronicle/American City Business Journals.
In addition to major CEOs and politicians, she has interviewed such celebrities as Wolf Blitzer, Andy Gibb, Hank Aaron and Usher.
In 2009, Hands of Gold was a quarterfinalist for historical fiction in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Robbins also won three Simon Rockower Awards for Jewish journalism from the American Jewish Press Association, including an investigative piece about Jewish seniors who feel “Out of Touch” in nursing homes. Other prestigious news-writing awards come from The State Bar of Georgia, the Alabama Associated Press and the South Carolina Press Association.
Hands of Gold is her first novel.
For more on Robbins and her writing career, visit www.ronirobbins.com.