October 25, 2011

The Hare with Amber Eyes - Edmund de Waal

The Hare with Amber Eyes is one of those books I have been hearing/reading/seeing lots of little tid bits about but I hadn't actually read a comprehensive review of the book when I picked it up for myself. After finishing it I can imagine it being one of those books that you either fall in love with - or you don't. I am definitely in the "fallen" category!
The Hare with Amber Eyes is the story of a collection of netsuke - small, ornamental Japanese carvings which were originally collected by a member of the author's family in Paris in the 1800's. The book tells the story of how the netsuke collection were handed down among the generations of the family until the author himself came across them in the home of his great uncle in Tokyo in the 1960's. I actually first thought the premise of the book sounded a little dull - how much story could there really be behind a collection of figurines??  It turns out - quite a big one. de Waal writes beautifully about the history of his family during two world wars, Hitler's rise to power and the persecution of the Jewish people and how the family hangs on to the netsuke, a final symbol of their wealth and prosperity. The geographic range of the story helps to make the book even more captivating as you are taken through Paris, Vienna and Tokyo.
The beginning and ending are definitely the strongest parts of the book and although some of the middle bits sagged a little for me I was still hooked by this story and the way in which it was told.


Anbolyn said...

I think you have to be in the right mood to enjoy this. I started reading it and knew it would entice me some day, but the timing wasn't right. I will definitely try it again one day!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I have this evil plan to get my bookclub to choose something already in my TBR. I carefully selected 6 books to pitch and this was one of them. Do you think it could make an interesting discussion?

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Karen said...

Hi Anbolyn - I totally agree with you - I think I could have picked this book up at another time and hated it!

Hi Alex - I think this would be a good book for a bookclub - I would imagine it would divide readers which always makes for good discussion!

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