Winner of the 2010 COSTA Biography Award. A total of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox: potter Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in the Tokyo apartment of his Great Uncle Iggie. Later, when Edmund inherited the ‘netsuke’, they unlocked a story far larger than he could ever have imagined.…
The Ephrussis came from Odessa, and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world; in the 1870s, Charles Ephrussi was part of a wealthy new generation settling in Paris. Marcel Proust was briefly his secretary and used Charles as the model for the aesthete Swann in Remembrance of Things Past. Charles’s passion was collecting; the netsuke, bought when Japanese objects were all the rage in the salons, were sent as a wedding present to his banker cousin in Vienna.
Later, three children - including a young Ignace - would play with the netsuke as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion. Almost all that remained of their vast empire was the netsuke collection, smuggled out of the huge Viennese palace (then occupied by Hitler’s theorist on the ‘Jewish Question��), one piece at a time, in the pocket of a loyal maid – and hidden in a straw mattress.
In this stunningly original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. He traces the network of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century. And, in prose as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves, he tells the story of a unique collection which passed from hand to hand - and which, in a twist of fate, found its way home to Japan.
This audio edition also features an interview with Edmund De Waal from the Vintage Books podcast.
©2011 Edmund de Waal (P)2011 Random House Audio Go
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"Authentic, provocative, intelligent family history."
Wide ranging, detailed, innovative history of the last century, from an unusual perspective, which has a powerful intelligence and unsettling tone which the listener will find difficult to ignore. Some might find this family history bleak and pedantic but I loved it for its originality, painstaking research and authentic voice. A must read.
This is the only audible book that I have regularly fallen asleep while listening to and then not been inclined to rewind to the bits I have missed. I forced myself to and made it to the end eventually but I didn't enjoy it much. It did improve as the book went on but I found the story progression to slow for me.
I don't think this genre holds my attention well enough to consider other books of the same type.
The performance was good. It was just the material that he had to work with that I didn't like.
A lot of the book is very visual, lots of descriptions of objects so may be it would work better as a movie or TV series.
Deft, subtle, moving; comprehensive, erudite and well-expressed. Basically, awesome. A good reading too, expressive and an easy voice to spend a few hours with.
"The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal"
I was trying to read this book for book club and finding it quite impossible until my daughter suggested this audio version. It contains a lot of historical art details and unfamiliar words difficult to pronounce. Michael Maloney read the book with ease so I was able to get to the end unlike the majority of our book club who gave up before half way. A great deal of research has gone into this story and will be of interest to family members in the future.
Descriptions of life in Japan.
The best bit was getting to end before book club day. It was such a relief .
Thank you Michael Maloney for making it possible.
Since listening to this book I have seen netsuke for sale in antique shops which I had not noticed before. Anyone could start to collect them today. I had the impression that the "hare" was going to be the centre of the story, this is not the case it must just have been Edmund's favourite netsuke which he carried in his pocket while doing his family research.
This book is beautiful - a story of a family, European and world history of the last 2 centuries, social attitudes to women, Jews, and others, relationships, art. It is entirely about memory and perception and it's high art. It's a gripping story, accessible while being literary, and very well read. I highly recommend it to anyone looming for something a little different to the normal run of things.
"I am just so bored with this"
Clear, good diction
Too slow, aching complicated to listen to and not able to really relate to the characters portrayed. Have not even got to the end of Part 1 and am not sure I have the will to continue
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