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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss
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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss [Kindle Edition]

Edmund de Waal
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: CDN$ 10.99 includes free international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
Sold by: Macmillan CA
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"A family memoir written with a grace and modesty that almost belie the sweep of its contents: Proust, Rilke, Japanese art, the rue de Monceau, Vienna during the Second World War. The most enchanting history lesson imaginable." --"The New Yorker"

"An extraordinary history...A wondrous book, as lustrous and exquisitely crafted as the netsuke at its heart." --"The" Christian Science Monitor""

"A lovely, gripping book." --"The Wall Street Journal"

"Enthralling . . . [de Waal's] essayistic exploration of his family's past pointedly avoids any sentimentality . . . "The Hare with Amber Eyes "belongs on the same shelf with Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak, Memory."" --Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post Book World""This is a book Sebald would have loved." --"The Irish Times"

"At one level [Edmund de Waal] writes in vivid detail of how the fortunes were used to establish the Ephrussis' lavish lives and high positions in Paris and Vienna society. And, as Jews, of their vulnerability: the P

Product Description

The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth-century Paris and Vienna society. Yet by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox.

The renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection.

The netsuke—drunken monks, almost-ripe plums, snarling tigers—were gathered by Charles Ephrussi at the height of the Parisian rage for all things Japanese. Charles had shunned the place set aside for him in the family business to make a study of art, and of beautiful living. An early supporter of the Impressionists, he appears, oddly formal in a top hat, in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Marcel Proust studied Charles closely enough to use him as a model for the aesthete and lover Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.

Charles gave the carvings as a wedding gift to his cousin Viktor in Vienna; his children were allowed to play with one netsuke each while they watched their mother, the Baroness Emmy, dress for ball after ball. Her older daughter grew up to disdain fashionable society. Longing to write, she struck up a correspondence with Rilke, who encouraged her in her poetry.

The Anschluss changed their world beyond recognition. Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered, and Hitler’s theorist on the “Jewish question” appropriated their magnificent palace on the Ringstrasse. A library of priceless books and a collection of Old Master paintings were confiscated by the Nazis. But the netsuke were smuggled away by a loyal maid, Anna, and hidden in her straw mattress. Years after the war, she would find a way to return them to the family she’d served even in their exile.

In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century. Sweeping yet intimate, it is a highly original meditation on art, history, and family, as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By J. Jago
I read it myself, loved it, lived in it and couldn't put it down - so sent it as a birthday present to my 'daughter-out-law in Toronto. Haven't heard yet whether she is as enthralled by it as I was - and still am. But she darn well should be!

I bought my first copy in a a London (UK) book shop offering a 2-for-1. Made my first choice and scanned the rows for my 'bargain'. I spotted The Hare with Amber Eyes and remembered I'd read something about it, couldn't remember the review and short of time, picked it up.

What happenstance! This eloquently written, absorbing and unique family history with its complex relationships combines an eye-opening account of the horrors and dreadful depredations of the Jewish people by the Nazis. But it takes no shortcuts on the structuring of a Jewish family rising from not-quite rags to unimaginable wealth - and the means by which this is achieved.

This is a book written with considerable charm, insight and more than anything else, absolute truth.

I gave my first copy to a friend and now have another - read it and reread it again and again. A masterpiece like no other.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book i have read in ages March 12 2011
By moky
This book has it all:history, scenery, art, emotions, subtlety, great writing, and all this from a man who is a well known potter but not a writer.
I highly recommand it; you are in for a treat!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring March 15 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
A book that raises questions about our relationship to objects, to ownership of art and the meanings they have in our lives and the stories they tell of who we were in the world . And a book that, underneath, writes the history of a Jewish family during the terrible years of the two great wars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than fiction Feb. 26 2013
By DMarc
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The inanimate comes alive by tracing the lineage of a family through the owners of a particular netsuke collection. The past lives through each hand that has touched these tiny wood and ivory carvings.
It's an intimate journey through time, art, fashion, political and social climates.
You will be transported.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Find March 14 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am impressed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though at the beginning I was wondering if I would even get through it. De Waal is an expert writer with the ability to describe scenes vividly. I found the descriptions of Nazi Germany and the treatment of the Jews just terrifying. I learned so much about this treatment and what happened to the possessions confiscated from the Jews. As we move to more acceptance in our daily lives, many more people need to read this account and learn from it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A modern masterpiece! Dec 5 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
How often does the history of a European dynasty read like a "I couldn't put it down" novel? Exciting, tragic and wise, this chronology takes us along on a voyage of discovery as we learn through the fate of a collection of miniature Japanese antiquities, how fine works of art can be feverishly sought after, then given away; cherished or dismissed; lost for years then re-discovered, understood and valued then trivialized as toys. Running parallel with the fate of these tiny sculptures ("The hare with amber eyes" is one of them) is the fate of the family who possessed them, and still does.This is a finely written and detailed chronology, superbly evocative of time and place, with beautifully and lovingly drawn portraits of family members (both black and white sheep) that come alive as the author digs ever deeper into his family's rise and fall. This book has so profoundly enriched my understanding of 19th and 20th European cultural history, I consider it among the finest books of any genre I have ever read. The illustrated edition is more expensive, but worth it for the photos, and also because for me at least, this book itself is an object I will cherish and share for many years to come.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Edmund de Waal traces his family history, the Ephrussi family, using the device of tiny Japanese sculptures called netsuke. Through them he traces the meteoric rise (comparable with the Rothschild family) and fall (during the Nazi era). It is a bit of a tiresome read in parts if you are not as enamoured of artistic sensitivities and language, but the underlying story of a real family is fascinating and well worth the read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mind opening surprise. May 18 2013
By John
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary book in a number of ways. It is beautifully written by someone who is not a professional writer. It is a retelling of what we think is a familiar period of European history but which is often surprising in it's revelations. Finally, it is deeply touching; one man's search for meaning in the history of his family. I am grateful to my friend Susanne who recommended this book to me, and to Kindle which made it instantly available to me while on a traveling holiday. I urge others to read it.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The Hare With Amber
I haven't read it yet. I will get to it later after the next book club meeting, whenever that is
Published 3 months ago by Lyn Ferns
3.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone's cup to teac
I like this book but it would not be everyone's cup of tea. It is a non-fiction family history, heavy on 19th Century Paris and Viennese history, fine arts and architecture. Read more
Published 10 months ago by M.Holm
3.0 out of 5 stars The Hare with Amber Eyes.
Find this book very difficult and disturbing.... all the racial discrimmination... Have not gotten through it yet.I am waiting to see what our book club summarizes this book as.
Published 12 months ago by Nili Gayer
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad, lovely memoir
The fate of a wealthy Jewish family in 20th-century Europe has been told before, but this time it's through a collection of small Japanese objects. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Barbara Black Peden
2.0 out of 5 stars the spirit of RM Rilke
There is no attempt in this book to connect with the artists who fashioned these items..and to the craft of netsuke. Read more
Published 17 months ago by HH
5.0 out of 5 stars The hare with the Amber Eyes
A fascinating story about a enormously wealthy 19th century banker family, comparable to the Rothschilds, who lost nearly everything after the first and second world war. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Juergen Marschall
2.0 out of 5 stars bitter disappointment
The Hare With Amber Eyes begins so well and promises so much that when it fails, it leaves the reader feeling rather queasy. Read more
Published on March 31 2012 by Jack Todd
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Popular Highlights

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They also need these languages as they are denominators of class. With languages, you can move from one social situation to another. With languages, you are at home anywhere. &quote;
Highlighted by 95 Kindle users
How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten? There can be a chain of forgetting, the rubbing away of previous ownership as much as the slow accretion of stories. What is being passed on to me with all these small Japanese objects? &quote;
Highlighted by 91 Kindle users
Amongst Charless artist friends, Degas became the most savage anti-Dreyfusard, and stopped speaking to Charles and to the Jewish Pissarro. Cézanne, too, was convinced of Dreyfuss guilt, and Renoir became actively hostile to Charles and his Jew art. &quote;
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