One of the finest books I have listened to as a devoted audiobook listener. ````
the lure of modern history intertwined with a family's poignant story
The entire book, from start to finish, commanded my attention. But the clarity given to the disintegration of cultured, empowered Jewish life in Vienna was heartrending. I realize now I did not comprehend the rapid descent into chaos. And this book speaks to the time with utter clarity and calm.
This book is the only audio book that has moved me to tears. The author has given me a window into my mother and grandmother's lives who, although not Viennese, survived Cristalnacht to escape Germany into Italy shortly thereafter. And maybe to empathize with my angry, unknowable mother.
Another reviewer summed it up best, I think: "too much and too little". Too much of things that I didn't find compelling and not enough of what I do find compelling. I didn't finish it, stopping around Chapter 3 in the 1870's. A family member sent me the family tree from the book, which was helpful, but I just wasn't finding the people or the time periods came to life enough to make it something I cared about. The narrator seemed great and had superior French pronunciation!
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.
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.