Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hare with Amber Eyes

I was expecting a lot from this book, and it surprised me. At first, I was disappointed that it wasn't a romantic family saga. I had visions of historical fiction, drama, war and peace, stories of love and derring-do, the whole lot. But it was actually about the author, Edmund De Waal's search for his ancestors' connection with their collection of netsuke, beautiful little Japanese statues that you can hold in the palm of the hand. Through this central theme, the story was told of his ancestors - prosperous grain merchant in Odessa, art patron in Paris, banker in Vienna, holocaust survivors, businessman in Japan.

Because of my exaggerated expectations, it took a while to get into it. But I did love this book in the end.

And I would certainly like to see the locations next time I'm in Paris or Vienna, and Tokyo of course- though it's unlikely I'll be going to Odessa any time soon! And I would also be tempted to go to the Ephrussi de Rothschild villa and gardens near Nice, although the owner of the villa only gets a passing comment in the book!

If you're interested in early Twentieth century history, The Hare with Amber Eyes's sweep will make you want to know more.

For a look at samples of the netsuke collection, do click this link to Edmund De Waal's site. They are such a treat. Fascinating how they survived the war!

Not a light read, but well worth the initial effort!

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