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Friday, September 30, 2016

Random Reviews: The Hare with Amber Eyes

Book Title: The Hare With Amber Eyes

Author: Edmund De Waal

Reviewed By: Samantha M.

The writer, an artist first and writer second, tells the tale of the Ephrussi family, his ancestors, who were at one time one of the most prominent Jewish banking families in Europe, as well as the journey of a collection of rare Japanese sculptures as it is passed from family member to family member, eventually making its way to the author. I was expecting the focus on antisemitism, but was still surprised at the depth of it: particularly in Paris, long before Hitler's rise. I was not expecting to be as drawn in by the story of the nestuke, the tiny carvings, as I was the stories of the Ephrussi family members. Many reviews on Goodreads point out that it starts slowly, which is true, but once the story picked up I found myself glad for any traffic I wound up in while listening to it in the car. The novel does not overly dramatize the events of the family and every bit of it was heavily researched by the author - from long trips to archives and libraries and stints in the settings themselves (Paris, Vienna, Tokyo).

Why I picked it up: I had finished reading "Tokyo Vice" by Jake Adelstein and was searching for similar titles on Goodreads. Eventually I came to this book. I wasn't sure at first, but the audiobook was available, so I jumped in.

Why I finished it: The reader of the audiobook has a wonderful voice. The story, the historical settings (Vienna, especially), and the figures portrayed are all written with care. There is great focus on various paintings - particularly paintings made by the Impressionists, as well as the painters themselves. When I reached the point of the story where WWII started winding up and Hitler's reach began spreading fast I could not stop listening.

Who would you recommend it to:: Anyone interested in a long, detailed, well-written book and anyone who is interested in late 19C and early 20C Europe, la Belle Epoque, the two World Wars, Japanese arts and culture, Impressionism, and family histories.

Find The Hare with Amber eyes in our catalog.

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