Although many of our customers have been full of praise for The Hare With the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, I still approached it with some trepidation. I had read a couple of negative comments to do with ‘coldness’ and the authors ‘dispassionate’ voice and I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
That didn’t stop me though from indulging in the luscious, black, hard cover, illustrated edition that came out for Christmas!
The cover and front page photographs of the netsuke caught my interest, but it was the preface that hooked me.
This was going to be a family history rich with artists, culture, architecture and language with sojourns into 19th century Russia & Paris and 20th century Vienna & Japan. So many of my favourite topics rolled into one!
And lying quietly, in the background was the inescapable knowledge that this was also the story of a Jewish family living during dangerous and threatening times.
I loved it from start to finish.
It was delicious, engaging & glamorous. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking.
It was one man’s attempt to not only trace the origins of the netsuke now in his care, but to also understand himself. This is the story of a family that embraced their time in history. Each generation, each period comes to life richly. And the whole time the netsuke are there – to be handled, creating memories and stories to be passed down to the next generation.
As many of those stories as possible have been collected by de Waal.
Sometimes his voice is a little distant and rambling. It’s like listening to someone who becomes distracted by another train of thought. Who suddenly remembers he has an audience before bringing it all back together again.
This is not a ‘cold’ book.
I was moved to tears and found myself hugging the book to my chest a number of times.