Some depth of character or plot
Lots of names and dates and places, with no connection
Yes, I loved the story since it was the author researching his own family's history....if you are interested in art or the Belle Epoque era in particular, I recommend this audible book.
One of the great strengths of this book is the level of detail it provides. The whole second part of the book was stunning for how vividly it brought to life the world of Vienna both before and during WWII. It was captivating. For the first part of the book, that dealt so much with art, I found the level of detail a bit overwhelming. As someone who knows little about "the art world" and simply isn't drawn to it that much, it felt like it just went on and on sometimes. But the second part more than made up for it.
It was a powerful experience reading this, and a hugely admirable accomplishment by the author.
I haven't read the print version but I think the proper pronunciation of terms in German and Japanese added alot to the reading. Mr Maloney did a sensitive reading........ he expressed emotions in his voice that he read on the page. It brought it alive and made the listener smile and cry in turn. He also varied the pace to the fit with what he was reading.
I would compare it to The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion because it is a memoir that focuses on one particular part of the memoirist's life. Both writers could skillfully tell us the facts and then plunge us into despair or joy by their reaction to those facts.
He was always speaking as Edmund de Waal.
I've listened to it twice and will probably revisit it in a few years. I also bought the print version so I can see the photographs and copy out some sections that were particularly meaningful to me.
A fantastic book!
This touching story of an Austrian family's history is carefully told through the author's inheritance of a collection of netsukes. Intriguing and thought provoking.
I have not read the printed version and I prefer to listen rather than to read. The reader of this book does an excellent job and it was a pleasure to listen to him. He made the book come alive.
For me, as a Jew, the story had special significance in highlighting the history of the wealthy Jewish community in London, Vienna and Paris before the world wars, and illustrating the dreadful antisemitism which overwhelmed them and sought - for not good reason - to exterminate them. I never knew about such an educated, cultured and wealthy Jewish class in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and their incredible contribution to the societies in which they lived, and which despised them simply for their 'otherness'.
I enjoyed his compassionate voice , his ability to make the different characters come alive - to act out the story.
I was physically upset by the descriptions of the antisemitism and of vileness of the Nazis in the Time of Hitler. I was also upset by the descriptions of how ordinary Germans; so called friends, neighbors; so called decent, cultured people - could stoop to such degradations whether they purported individual acts of savagery themselves, or benefited from the murder of millions of people and their theft and destruction of the property and art treasures that the Ephrussi family amassed and which would have been a gift to mankind.
I found the first 50 or so pages, quite repetitive and could not understand such a prolonged peon to the arts and artifacts that are so passionately described. The story came alive to me when it moved into greater depth about the Ephrussi families and particular characters - and the circumstances that befell them. The fact that is based on fact, was very interesting to me.
De Waal takes you deeply into this family (his family), generation after generation, so that not only do you care about individuals, but you understand how they originated their enormous wealth (in Russia), how they lived in the upper classes of European society, and how they were affected by 20th-century anti-semitism --- all this "threaded" by a collection of netsuke. Brilliant!
This was a little slow at first, but once I got with the ruminative rhythm of it, I really enjoyed it. It's poetic nature is charming and an apt complimentary style to it's subject matter, the tiny and exquisite sculptures.
Yes...I've told all my friends about it! Especially those that enjoy history, art and a fascinating tale!
The sad and poignant loss of the family's treasure (status and monetary) during WW II.
Imagining the children playing with the Netsuke while their mother dressed in her dressing room!
Imaging the author walking the streets of Vienna, envisioning the former glory of his family's incredible residence.
I am a lifelong lover of books. I got my degree in English & worked in the publishing business for many years. Now I work with wildlife.
This book got good reviews so I wanted to read it. It did not disappoint. The narration by Michael Maloney was a little overly dramatic, but didn't turn me off. The history of Edmund de Waal's family was fascinating and somewhat sad. The fact that they were enormously wealthy did not protect them, as jews, from WWI and WW2. They lost pretty much everything except for this large collection of netsuke, small ivory and/or wooden ornaments originally carved for samuri warriors to wear on their belts. Despite the dramatic narration, I would definitely recommend this book.