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Good Living Street: The fortunes of my Viennese family Paperback – 6 Jun 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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£9.98 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (6 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 174331146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1743311462
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 386,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A glittering family saga of privilege and tragedy. --Sunday Telegraph



So rich in texture, so full of artistic and visual detail, that a whole lost central European world, and particularly its art, architecture and music, comes alive on the page. --The Spectator



A captivating tour-de-force. --Art Monthly



[Good Living Street] tells a riveting three-generational family story without sentimentality that, because of the meticulousness of the research, displays a whole society to us, with habits, lifestyles, attitudes and aspirations so different from ours... It is essentially an essay on the human spirit, with all its angularities and complexities. --Australian Literary Review

So rich in texture, so full of artistic and visual detail, that a whole lost central European world, and particularly its art, architecture and music, comes alive on the page. --The Spectator

A captivating tour-de-force.-- Art Monthly

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[Good Living Street] tells a riveting three-generational family story without sentimentality that, because of the meticulousness of the research, displays a whole society to us, with habits, lifestyles, attitudes and aspirations so different from ours... It is essentially an essay on the human spirit, with all its angularities and complexities. --Australian Literary Review

About the Author

Tim Bonyhady is an art historian and environmental lawyer. Since 2004 he has been director of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law at the Australian National University. His many books include Images in Opposition: Australian Landscape Painting 1801-1890, Places Worth Keeping, Conservationists, Politics and Law and The Colonial Earth which won the NSW Premier's Prize for Australian History and the Queensland Premier's Prize for History. In 2013 he will be a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a very pale imitation of The Hare with Amber Eyes. Being of an immigrant Jewish family myself I have more than the usual dose of involvement in books of this kind, but I felt here that, despite the very extraordinary story of this family being able to escape to Australia at the last minute with so much of their extensive collection,the narrative dragged. And the endless itemisation became tiresome. It's of course a conscious tribute by the author to his family and for that it is to be admired...a great document for his descendants. But gripping reading??? Not really.
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Format: Paperback
Towards the end of this long family history there is a rather blurred black and white photograph of three generations of the Bonyhady family, taken in their flat in Australia, Christmas 1967. It shows in the background Gretl and Kathe, Jewish sisters who fled Vienna after Kristallnacht - they brought with them containers full of art and furniture, including a rare portrait (of their mother Hermine) by Klimt. Gretl's daughter Anne is in the middle ground, and her two young sons, Bruce and Tim are in the foreground. It reads like a more thorough, academic version of the popular long-running series on the BBC, 'Who Do You Think You Are?' in which celebrities trace the lives of some of their ancestors.

The photograph has some hidden messages. Although they were Jews, the family converted to Christianity, as many did in Vienna in the hope of protecting themselves against anti-Semitism, though it did not do them much good - hence the Christmas tree. The picture hanging on the wall is by Carl Moll, once a close family friend, who turned against them when the Nazi took over in Austria, not wishing to be associated with Jews. The two old ladies, Gretl and Kathe, lean together as if intimate, yet were they always at loggerheads. Their daughter Anne, who moved to Australia when she was a teenager, wears no jewels, even though the family once owned a treasure-trove of them (which the author exhaustively lists, along with many other possessions); she became a respected academic who cut her ties with Austria. The boy in the foreground is Tim who, many decades later, began the journey of discovery that led to this book; it took him many years to write.

The narrative is divided into four large sections.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. Melbourne Art Gallery has some of the Gallia furniture on display, which has always interested me and this book brings everything to life. The book is well written and engaging and after I bought the Kindle edition, I couldn't wait to own the hard copy. Family histories are an excellent way to understanding history generally, and this is one of the best!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Think of Vienna and the mind wanders back to the Blue Danube, the Strauss waltzes, the old coffee houses - absolute nostalgic enchantment. Good Living Street - a translation of Wohllebengasse in the classy 4th District, the street where the Gallia family lived, takes you to the heart of Viennese fin-de-siècle opulence and high culture. Across three generations they mixed with the Mahlers, the artists Klimt, Schindler and Moll, and the furniture maker Hoffmann, acquiring valuable artefacts of the period. When the majority of the population was starving in the last year of the Great War the family carried on with lavish seasonal feasts and giving one another expensive presents. This family was Jewish, and despite their conversion to Catholicism, it did not save them from the Nazis inserting them within the "Untermensch" or underclass species after the Anschluss.

Two daughters Gretl and Käthe, and one grand daughter, Annelore, fled to Australia after Kristallnacht in November 1938, incredibly taking with them pictures, silver, glass, jewellery and porcelain, and two pianos, one Grand, one upright; other members of the family in contrast experienced the Holocaust and death in the camps, with the few survivors broken, their health ruined, they soon perished or chose to take their lives.

Life in the new world for the "reffo" (meaning exiled) heiresses was not easy. As Austrians with means and not Polish Jews -considered little better than aborigines, they were granted entry. For three years in war, however, they became "enemy aliens", experiencing restrictions and suspicion from neighbourly interfering locals.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating book - I only picked it to read as it featured that work of the Gustav Klimt and the Weiner Workstatte but it was a fascinating read and I 'couldn't put it down'. The family endured a lot but were the some of the lucky ones to make it out of Nazi Germany and into Australia.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderful and masterful telling of an amazing and courageous story. A great social history of the late Hapsburg empire and Pre-war Austria under Nazi rule. Loved every page.
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