The book was recommended to me thus: "It has everything you like! Art, literature, Proust, Paris, Vienna, fin de siecle, WWI, Japan, etc" I could not agree more, yet that barely does it justice...it ponders huge questions so nimbly and entertainingly that you might be excused to call it memoire or history, but it is more like a run on essay...and I would not have minded it running on and on.
The reader is one of the best I have ever heard...perfectly credible moving among languages and a variety of nationalities of names. Truly great
The story follows one man as he tries to trace the history of his inherited netsuke collection back through time. What he discovers along the way is that he is really seeking a way to cope with his family history and the loss of his uncle.
A captivating story. This is beautifully written and take you through the rise and fall of a great family. These little figurines become so much more than they seem. They become a read through time. From one area to another they hold the longings and aspirations and also the heartaches of the family. This book is a wonderful history of the last one and a half. Centuries and an incredible amount of change and atrocity and yet beauty and discovery.
This is an interesting and engaging story, but it is absurd and distracting that the narrator mispronounces one of the key words in the book consistently throughout. I don't necessarily blame the narrator, but the producer/editor should surely have caught it. Nobody would tolerate that same sloppy approach to the text; if netsuke was misspelled throughout the book version an editor would have caught it or lost his or her job. It's time to bring an equivalent standard to pronunciation in audio books. In the meantime, please at least get the key words right.
This is an amazing book on multiple levels. It is the 160 year story of a family. For the attention to detail and the use of research and imagination the author used to create the book, it is worth it alone. But it is far more. The history of that family, from Poland to Ukraine to Paris and Vienna, to Tokyo and London and America, and the world events that affected them, is a great way to appreciate how the macro affects the micro.
But there is even more. The book is also a meditation on memory, on the importance of what the psychoanalyst Winnicott called "transitional objects," external things that stand for emotions and people. The netsuke (pronounced net -sue-key by the reader and net'sky by the author in the podcast post-script) stands for an era, a variety of persons, the Jews of Europe, and the artist as creator.
I highly recommend this book, especially in the spoken form. The performance is excellent and adds to the excitement of the story. However, after I listened to the audio version I went out and bought the illustrated version of the hard cover book. The quality of that volume is also outstanding and the illustrations are a great supplement to the audio.
The narrator is fantastic, but I am not moved by the story. Too complicated for me to listen to -- would prefer to read it.
Possibly, but I would read it.
Sumptuous historical mystery!
Michael Maloney is a superb narrator for this wonderful multi-faceted historical family memoir. Got the book in whisper-sync and read it half-and-half on kindle app and listened. Maloney has the golden voice of a Shakespearean actor (sounds a bit like Richard Burton but not nearly as hammy) and reads the book with great flair and enthusiasm, so that even the occasional dry parts with the lists of endless objects in the Ephrussi households are very engaging to listen to. One of the nicest voices of any narrator I have listened to so far.
The story itself is gripping--I had a certain interest in netsuke (though knew little), but found myself completely engrossed and fascinated in all sections of the book except maybe the epilogue, where de Waal describes how he can't let go of the book; he's already made that obvious, so I don't think he needed to add that little bit, but it was interesting to hear him make the analogy with his pottery making, which is always about letting go of the beautiful objects that he sells.
Most moving was the takeover by the Nazis of the Palais Ephrussi in Vienna. This old couple are suddenly prisoners in 2 little windowless rooms of this fantastic fairytale palace, and even though they can exit the grounds, there is no place where Jews are allowed anywhere in the whole city--not even a park bench! Very touching. Also touching is the return of the netsuke to a prominent place in the elegant living room of Uncle Iggie, the author's great uncle, in his elegant house in Tokyo.
Will look for more books narrated by Michael Maloney.
Caring, Intelligent, History
I can't remember any other book at its sort.
Very well done, although he is a fast narrator. Sometimes he speaks too quick.
No. I did it in parts because there is so much to listen to. In fact it's three stories in one book.First the search of the netsukes, then the whole of the family history and then the way Edmund de Waal did his research.
I was so lucky to have seen him in person giving his talk about the book. And then I was so impressed that I bought the book for my husband and I searched for this audible book. And I was lucky to find it.There will be a time that I will read it agian because reading with your ears is quite different than with your eyes. Can't wait to see the film.
A true story that never fails to captivate--have not read the print version, but friends who have read it say the two versions are equally fascinating.
Articulate and understated.
When Emmy and Victor were invaded by the Gestapo and thrown out of their palace.
A truly wonderful book.
...loved the trip through European history ~ Odessa, Vienna, Paris and London. I'd already read the book as did my book group, there's so much detail, 'hearing' it brought out futher insight into the Efrussi family.
Uncle Iggy, who lives in Tokyo, is memorable. the characters are all memorable in their own way.
I'm familiar with Michael Maloney's acting, I recognized his voice pretty quickly. I thought his French sounded excellent. He's just a great talent.
When the book returns to Uncle Iggy at the end and we find out more about him.
One of the best books I've ever read, I've always been a fan of European history, it was my college major.