book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Edmund de Waal - The Hare with the Amber Eyes

review written & read live on the bookshow by Brian Lowen 16th Oct 2014

This book goes into great detail and is very long – you have to be determined to stick with it through to the end.

The story centres on the Netsuke which are tiny Japanese carved figures of wood and ivory, designed to be held in the hand and there are 264 of them in the collection.

The book details the history of them since they were first collected by the Ephrussi family in Vienna in the 19th century. They were very rich Jews who also had family connections in Paris and Tokyo.

The author, who now owns the collection, spent two years tracing their history and that of the family through two world wars. The family originally owned a bank in Vienna and had several large mansions around Austria with many servants and a fine collection of art – paintings, tapestries, porcelain and jewellery and the netsuke which were all displayed in a glass fronted cabinet.

The author travels around Europe, locating their houses and investigating the lives of the original inhabitants. The book goes into great detail about their lives and all the art treasures.

Being a Jewish family, they suffered during the first world war and even more so during the second, when they lost all their

property, their jobs and their possessions, except for the netsuke which were hidden by one of the faithful servants, as Hitler established his Third Reich. The descriptions of their lives during this time are quite heart-rending.

The family all gradually leave Austria – the last member escaping with just one suitcase and ending up in Tunbridge Wells, living with relations.

I found the book unnecessarily long, but it was two years work by the Author and he has recorded everything he discovered. A book for lovers of art, in all its forms, but not, I am afraid, for me. I only read it because our Chaplain mentioned it in one of his sermons and I thought it sounded interesting as it is a true story, but I found it much too long and detailed.

No comments: