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The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by [de Waal, Edmund]
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The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 596 customer reviews

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Length: 354 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"Enthralling . . . Belongs on the same shelf with Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak, Memory."" --Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post
""Absorbing . . . In this book about people who defined themselves by the objects they owned, de Waal demonstrates that human stories are more powerful than even the greatest works of art." --Adam Kirsch, "The New Republic
""At one level [Edmund de Waal] writes in vivid detail of how the fortunes were used to establish the Ephrussis' lavish lives and high positions . . . And, as Jews, of their vulnerability: the Paris family shaken by turn-of-the-century anti-Semitism surging out of the Dreyfus affair; the Vienna branch utterly destroyed in Hitler's 1937 Anschluss . . . At a deeper level, though, "Hare "is about something more, just as Marcel Proust's masterpiece was about something more than the trappings of high society. As with "Remembrance of Things Past," it uses the grandeur to light up interior matters: aspirations, passions, their passing; all in a duel, and a duet, of elegy and irony." --Richard Eder, "The Boston Sunday Globe
""To be handed a story as durable and exquisitely crafted as this is a rare pleasure . . . You have in your hands a masterpiece." --Frances Wilson, "The Sunday Times" (London)
"A family memoir written with a grace and modesty that almost belie the sweep of its contents: Proust, Rilke, Japanese art, the rue de Monceau, Vienna during the Second World War. The most enchanting history lesson imaginable." --Claudia Roth Pierpont, "The New Yorker
""The book not only of the year, but of the decade." --Michael Howard, "The Times Literary Supplement
""Elegant. Modest. Tragic. Homeric." --Stephen Frears, "The Guardian
""As full of beauty and whimsy as a netsuke from the hands of a master carver. Buy two copies of his book; keep one and give the other to your closest bookish friend." --"The Economist
""Wise, strange, and gripping." --A.S. Byatt, "The Guardian"

Enthralling . . . Belongs on the same shelf with Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak, Memory." "Michael Dirda, The Washington Post"

Absorbing . . . In this book about people who defined themselves by the objects they owned, de Waal demonstrates that human stories are more powerful than even the greatest works of art. "Adam Kirsch, The New Republic"

At one level [Edmund de Waal] writes in vivid detail of how the fortunes were used to establish the Ephrussis' lavish lives and high positions . . . And, as Jews, of their vulnerability: the Paris family shaken by turn-of-the-century anti-Semitism surging out of the Dreyfus affair; the Vienna branch utterly destroyed in Hitler's 1937 Anschluss . . . At a deeper level, though, "Hare "is about something more, just as Marcel Proust's masterpiece was about something more than the trappings of high society. As with "Remembrance of Things Past," it uses the grandeur to light up interior matters: aspirations, passions, their passing; all in a duel, and a duet, of elegy and irony. "Richard Eder, The Boston Sunday Globe"

To be handed a story as durable and exquisitely crafted as this is a rare pleasure . . . You have in your hands a masterpiece. "Frances Wilson, The Sunday Times (London)"

A family memoir written with a grace and modesty that almost belie the sweep of its contents: Proust, Rilke, Japanese art, the rue de Monceau, Vienna during the Second World War. The most enchanting history lesson imaginable. "Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker"

The book not only of the year, but of the decade. "Michael Howard, The Times Literary Supplement"

Elegant. Modest. Tragic. Homeric. "Stephen Frears, The Guardian"

As full of beauty and whimsy as a netsuke from the hands of a master carver. Buy two copies of his book; keep one and give the other to your closest bookish friend. "The Economist"

Wise, strange, and gripping. "A.S. Byatt, The Guardian""

Review

"A family memoir written with a grace and modesty that almost belie the sweep of its contents: Proust, Rilke, Japanese art, the rue de Monceau, Vienna during the Second World War. The most enchanting history lesson imaginable." --"The New Yorker"

"An extraordinary history...A wondrous book, as lustrous and exquisitely crafted as the netsuke at its heart." --"The" Christian Science Monitor""

"A lovely, gripping book." --"The Wall Street Journal"

"Enthralling . . . [de Waal's] essayistic exploration of his family's past pointedly avoids any sentimentality . . . "The Hare with Amber Eyes "belongs on the same shelf with Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak, Memory."" --Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post Book World""This is a book Sebald would have loved." --"The Irish Times"

"At one level [Edmund de Waal] writes in vivid detail of how the fortunes were used to establish the Ephrussis' lavish lives and high positions in Paris and Vienna society. And, as Jews, of their vulnerability: the P


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2214 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (3 Jun. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003NX6Y2O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 596 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,510 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Edmund de Waal is a renowned ceramic artist who's work has been exhibited in Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He can trace his ancestry back to a wealthy Ukrainian family who made their fortune from grain exporting and later banking, and who had spacious and luxurious homes in Vienna, Tokyo and Paris. When Edmund inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese netsuke carvings from his Uncle Ignace, he felt prompted to investigate their place in the family history. The Hare With Amber Eyes is the result.

The book opens with De Waal studying in Tokyo in 1991 while on a two year scholarship, visiting his Uncle Iggie (Ignace) in his home in Tokyo, which he shares with Jiro, his partner of 41 years. Ignace has a wonderful collection of netsuke which has been in the family since the late 19th century. Three years later, Uncle Iggie dies, and Jiro writes and signs a document bequeathing the netsuke to Edmund once Jiro himself has gone.

When Edmund eventually owns the netsuke he finds himself greatly intrigued by the history of this remarkable collection, and realises that all he really knows are a few anecdotes, which become thinner in the telling. The only answer is to carry out a proper investigation into their story - and off he sets to visit the locations the netsuke have resided in and to investigate those who owned them before.

The Hare with Amber Eyes is a lovely book. I have read similar accounts of family history where too much is assumed, where scenes are guessed at, conversations created where none could possible be recalled, and personalities are elaborated until they are far too larger than life. Edmund de Waal seems to be a very careful writer. He has only written about what he knows and what he can prove from primary sources.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a mesmerising many-layered book. The fascinating narrative of the fabulously wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family moves through the decades from commercial Odessa to the Paris of the Impressionists and artistic salons to the brutal destruction of the Anschluss of 1938 in Vienna and a familial diaspora over three continents. Parallel to this, we follow with the author his own emotive journey to reclaim the lives lived in the vanished rooms of his forbears. This he does sensitively and successfully, imagining his way there through archives, letters and contemporary fiction. He visits all the great houses and, in Odessa, tasting the dust of the demolished palace rooms, he rejoices in the survival of the Ephrussi family emblem on a last remaining banister.

Such evocative writing and small discovered detail make this a story we want to follow with him and we find that this is not, after all, a tale of acquisition but of loss. The 264 tiny Japanese carvings (netsuke) bought in the 1870s in Paris are all that now remain of the family possessions. We also come to understand another loss: the Ephrussis no longer felt defined by their Jewish origins: artists and socialites passed through their grand salons. It is shocking to discover that even those who enjoyed their patronage were casually anti-Semitic. It is hard to read the vivid account of the abrupt violence of the Nazis as they took (almost) every precious possession from them, leaving them, in the end, only their Jewishness.

The netsuke are the beginning and ending of the story. Their exquisite detail is emblematic of this beautifully crafted book and its touching story of the individuals through whose hands they passed. One or other of them seems, like a rosary, to accompany the writer in his travels: a constant reminder to keep faith with his past.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been recommending this book to all my friends since I read it. It provides a fascinating insight into fin de siecle Paris and early 20th century Vienna while exploring the lives of members of the Ephrussi family. The plight of the Jews and their treatment at the hands of the Nazis suddenly becomes personal, because you feel you know these people. You also get an insight into the factors that lead to their persecution.

It's mesmerising to learn of the provenance of some of the world's most famous art works, while the constant presence of the collection of netsuke is a leitmotif that binds everything together. This books crosses generations and continents. It is an easy read, but also a work of profound content. The author has managed to balance the emotions aroused learning about his forebearers with a detachment that analyses the factors that lead to their downfall. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in art, 19th and 20th century history or just enjoys family sagas.
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Format: Paperback
This is an extremely erudite book and cosily assumes a shared level of knowledge about art and European culture. If you know your Cassatt from your Pissarro this is probably right up your street but it left me feeling a bit of a numpty. It is littered with phrases from French and German that the reader is expected to nod their head at knowingly. The reviews are gushing, and largely deserved but I can't help but come over a little churlish.

Disappointingly, there are very few illustrations of the netsuke. You might assume by the title that they are the core of the book but they function largely as a device for de Waal to explore his illustrious family history which ranges across several continents. As a family memoir it works well but I felt a certain amount of unease, bordering on distaste, reading about the fabulous wealth and conspicuous consumption that the family - and de Waal -seemed to take in their stride. I am emphatically not signalling some kind of sub-text here. De Waal's dissection of the development (and language) of anti Semitism during this period is, for me, the most interesting - and disturbing -part of the book and his description of the family's art works and possessions being sequestered by the Nazis was horrifying and undeserved. Still, whilst reading the earlier sections I couldn't escape the reflection that my own ancestors, like many people, were barely surviving, illiterate and underfed in slums and cellars, while de Waal's were gaily cavorting with Proust, Renoir and most of the European Intelligentsia. The injustice of extreme wealth living side by side with severe poverty doesn't merit a mention. Class war anybody?
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