The Cedars of Beckenham
Author: Peter Longley (St Catharine's 1963)
Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishing
The Mystery of an Antique German Doll reunites members of a family torn apart during The Third Reich of Nazi Germany. This family saga, starting in the leafy suburb of Beckenham on the borders of Kent and London, begins in 1930 in the comfortable world of four British upper-middle-class families blind to the impending changes that are about to threaten not only their world but everyone else’s world, too. A doll belonging to the Abuthnott family becomes the catalyst that brings together two sides of the Rubenstein family, who were able to escape from Germany in the late 1930s finding refuge in the United States of America and in the British Mandate of Palestine and later at Cambridge, UK.
Along the way, the horrors of the Blitz and the British struggle for survival are enacted out against the parallel Germanic horror of holocaust separation. The survivors in the United States, Great Britain and Israel, and Cambridge adapt to a new world as it unfolds through the second half of the 20th century, until by the chance sale of a German Biedermeier doll at Sotheby’s in New York, their separate paths are brought together in 2017. The four Beckenham families adapt to their changing lifestyles, witnessing a rich tapestry of 20th-century social history taking the reader all over the world with its beauty, passion, and prejudices.