Monday 6 February 2012

A Book of Sighs

The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal is one of those magnificent stories that made me sigh at every turn.

I sighed with pleasure; I sighed with sorrow; I sighed with delight; I sighed with horror; I sighed with anticipation and I sighed with satisfaction.

I hugged this book to my chest. I sniffed the pages. I caressed the cover and poured over the photos and illustrations.
The Hare with the Amber Eyes was a full body experience!

The Ephrussi family were an amazing group of people.

Hard-working, well educated, socially connected. They embraced the times they lived in wholeheartedly - they mixed with artists, poets and politicians. They were collectors of books, art, furniture and property. They lived through some of the most extraordinary periods of history in some of the most extraordinary cities of the world.

De Waal's device of following the trail of the netsuke through the generations was a lovely way to provide this story with a structure and a purpose. 
However this is not just another ramble through a family history. This is an extraordinary tale of family, love and loss.


  1. Really? I found this quite dull and cold. I couldn't get any of the emotion out of that you obviously did. Sigh of frustration.

  2. Interesting that the two of you had such different responses. I wonder if colour photos make a difference? (I am assuming, Josh, that you read the paperback. I know Brona read the full colour gift edition). Obviously this would only be one piece of the puzzle and not the entire reason behind liking or disliking the book, but what do you two think?

  3. Family history/bio is not every one's cup of tea I guess. And De Waal could ramble at times, but I forgave him these minor excursions and they never got in the way of my complete enjoyment.

  4. Anonymous15/2/12

    I read this a few weeks ago and it has been one of the better reading experiences recently and I enjoy memoirs. I think it made a difference that I knew quite a lot about this family as I began to discover as I read it.
    My book group were split over it, but most were happy to have read about the family, life and times.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm half way through The Distant Hours as it's a chunkster by my standards. I'm reading it as a book group choice and we meet on Friday so I won't be writing about it until I have thought more about it for myself when I get to finish it!


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