Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear Great Book Guru,  I was at the Beach Cleanup this week and met so many great new people. One of them mentioned a book which was about beautiful little animal figurines but was really the history of an extraordinary family. Sounds strange, I know, but she said it was fascinating… Any thoughts? Lover of Sea Cliff Beach

Dear Lover of Sea Cliff Beach,  The beach looks spectacular and thanks to all of those who came out on Saturday to take part in the cleanup! THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES by Edmund De Waal is a story of gains and losses, triumph and defeat, things large and small…   spread over many years and many countries. The book begins in Paris 1871.  Charles Ephrussi, the fabulously wealthy son of a fabulously wealthy family amasses a large collection of netsuke- tiny Japanese  animal carvings- none bigger than a matchbook. We travel across Europe into the lavish, art-filled homes of the Ephrussis with the book ending in Tokyo 2007 where one of the remaining family members has settled;  much has gone on in between.   The Ephrussis were Russian Jews who began a grain business in the early 1800’s and then branched out over Europe making fortunes in a myriad of fields. However, their wealth could not shield them from the virulent anti-Semitism of twentieth century Europe.   Eventually, the family is disbursed over three continents, possessions gone, and lives destroyed.  Throughout, we follow the netsuke collection as it comes to represent the Ephrussis’s strength and vulnerability.   Highly recommended!

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