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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance


264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox: potter Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. Later, when Edmund inherited the 'netsuke', they unlocked a story far larger than he could ever have imagined...The Ephrussis came from Odessa, and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world; in the 1870s, Charles Ephrussi was part of a wealthy new generation settling in Paris. Marcel Proust was briefly his secretary and used Charles as the model for the aesthete Swann in Remembrance of Things Past. Charles' passion was collecting; the netsuke, bought when Japanese objects were all the rage in the salons, were sent as a wedding present to his banker cousin in Vienna. Later, three children - including a young Ignace - would play with the netsuke as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion. Almost all that remained of their vast empire was the netsuke collection, smuggled out of the huge Viennese palace (then occupied by Hitler's theorist on the 'Jewish Question'), one piece at a time, in the pocket of a loyal maid - and hidden in a straw mattress. In this stunningly original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. He traces the network of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century. And, in prose as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves, he tells the story of a unique collection which passed from hand to hand - and which, in a twist of fate, found its way home to Japan. Hide synopsis

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Reviews of The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

Overall customer rating: 4.375
Marilou  G
by Marilou G on Jul 25, 2013

Excellent, riveting book, a little slow at the beginning but then you can't put it down. More

carol w

pictures worth thousands of words

by carol w on Oct 18, 2012

A wonderful page-turning historical story, newly illuminated by masses of photos and maps and documents. I don't own two copies of many books, but this duplicate is so worth it! More

Susan G

More than biography

by Susan G on May 3, 2012

The author traces his inheritance of a netsuke collection back to the ancestor who first acquired it. In so doing he tells us of the lives of those who have owned it, and of the times and places in which they lived. The collection amazingly survived even a Nazi incursion into the very house where ... More


My favorite book this year!

by bleakbird on Dec 1, 2011

This is fascinating, beautifully written and sensitively observed. I am giving it to those I love the most. More

Reginald R

Art & history

by Reginald R on Jul 8, 2011

This is not jjust all about netsuke, a collection of which the author has inherited, but an excellent historical narrative, after a Parisian episode, of what life was like in Austria, and Vienna in particular, before and after the dissolution and dismemberment in 1918-19 of th Austro-Hungarian Empire ... More

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