YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
Family History Woven Around Inherited Objects
When I came across a review of The Hare with the Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal, I was immediately struck by the book’s premise, so strikingly similar to my historical novel The Nine Inheritors: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Family and Their Ancient Torah Scroll.
When De Waal inherits a collection of netsuke, exquisite Japanese miniature carvings, he becomes fascinating with their journey through generations of the remarkable Ephrussi family. The Ephrussi were a fabulously wealthy Jewish banking dynasty centered in Odessa, Vienna, Paris, and London, and were peers of the Rothchild family.
The netsuke were aquired by Charles Ephrussi, scion of the Jewish banking family, from a dealer in Paris, in the 1870s— a relative of de Waal’s great grandfather, Viktor Ephrussi. Charles kept his collection in a black lacquer vitrine until he sent them to Vienna as a wedding present for his cousin Viktor and his bride Emmy. In March 1938, the Ephrussi home was invaded by men in swastika armbands. Only the netsuke marcaulously survive from the once vast Ephrussi collections of paintings, furniture and bric-a-brac. Edmund de Waal eventually inherited the collection, and it links the chronology of his memoir as he traces how the netsuke, passing from one family member to the next. As in The Nine Inheritors, the threads of history are inextricably woven into the story, tracing the rise of the antisemitism which led to the Holocaust. Such stories grow every day more vital with the passing of time. For more see review in Goodreads: Also see review in The Gaurdian:
I am particularly looking forward to downloading the new Enhanced eBook, available in August, which will include videos of the elegant Ephrussi family homes in Paris and Vienna, and watercolors painted by famous Impressionists especially for the family, and the netsuke themselves—which come to life as if the reader were holding each one in the palm of their hand. The Nine Inheritors is also available from the iBookstore as an Enhanced eBook, which includes video of author interviews and inspirations, and high definition photos. I hope this inspires you to explore the books, and even perhaps to create your own stories, using family objects as your inspiration.