Hare With Amber Eyes, The
De Waal, Edmund
The hare with the amber eyes along with the other 263 pieces of a netsuke collection, tell a remarkable story, that of its collectors, the Ephrussi family. Played out against the backdrop of a turbulent and dynamic Europe, this memoir traces the fortunes of this wealthy and privileged Jewish dynasty from the 1850s to the present day.
Rich with the details of the art and literary worlds of the time, it is a fascinating history of a family weathering the storms of anti-Semitism and war.
Costa Book Award Winner 2010.
Comments from Groups
We all enjoyed this book and felt we learned a lot from it. Dunedin 033
A most enjoyable and fascinating history about the family's fortune and misfortune-though most, bar one, found the first chapter rather heavy going. We would recommend this book. Christchurch 116
I think we would have to vote that this is one of the best books we have read. Tauranga 004
What a fantastic read. A look into a way of life that is difficult to comprehend for most of us. The incredible wealth of the family, and its demise, WW2 with the destruction of the Jewish way of life and of course the netsukes, fantastic! Within our group, it doesn't matter what we are reading, someone has visited the country, and sure enough, one of our members had visited Odessa recently. Winton 001
This is the most amazing book on many levels-one member read it twice, some didn't get to read it-I certainly need my own copy & I want to see a netsuke `in the flesh`! So much to think about, a great read. Te Kuiti 002
Almost everyone really liked this book. It provoked lots of discussion re the war, Jews, personalities, wealth, art and people did further research especially re netsukes. Napier 026
Whilst a certain amount of googling was necessary to fully appreciate this book, it offered a fascinating insight both into the process of researching family history, and the life of a wealthy Jewish extended family during highly charged points in history. The group gave it a universal thumbs up.
We all thoroughly enjoyed this book. Learnt loads about the collection of netsuke and what some of us had seen on The Antiques Roadshow. Then we discussed what some of the members collected - spoons , apples and Christmas plates.
Most of us agreed that the first half was a massive struggle to get through, as it was quite boring. Only 4 of us managed to read through to the end. Some even mentioned that a book shouldn't be such a struggle to read. However, that said, the second half was very well written and highly interesting.
A book of two halves! The first part too long-winded and rather boring, but we all enjoyed the stories of the people. I don't think any of us realised the way all Jews were treated. We knew about the prison camps of course, but not how much was taken from them in the way of possessions and sanity. Man's humanity to man!
Several of us had read this before. We were split between those who found it hard to get into and those who found it an absorbing read. Those who loved it revelled in the art history, the novel approach to family history, the insight into the appalling anti-Semitism over centuries, and the unique authorial voice.
Only one member of our group completed the book. She found it interesting as she owns two netsuke bought in Japan, and is very interested in art history. The remainder of the group found it a little too wordy, and the use of different languages made reading it difficult. Recommended for those readers interested in art history.
We thought this book was a masterpiece, and more than one member is going to buy their own copy.
With the exception of one member, we loved this book and the discussion was lively. As well, each member brought along a family treasure, and a story to go with it, and this was a lovely addition to the evening's discussion. The public library has an illustrated (colour) edition that I got out, so members could see the art works in colour.
Multi layered story which prompted research and investigation of places, objects and people who were part of the story. The book provided an enjoyable challenge.
Most of this reading group found 'The Hare With the Amber Eyes' a fascinating read and appreciated the grand architecture, social mores, and insights into the Ephrussi family diaspora and the treasured netsuke. Several of the members brought along collections - netsuke, glass paperweights and early NZ pottery.