The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Edmund de Waal

Narrated By: Micheal Maloney

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Date: June 2011

Duration: 10 hours 30 minutes


The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who 'burned like a comet' in nineteenth-century Paris and Vienna society. Yet by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox.
The renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection.
The netsuke-drunken monks, almost-ripe plums, snarling tigers-were gathered by Charles Ephrussi at the height of the Parisian rage for all things Japanese. Charles had shunned the place set aside for him in the family business to make a study of art, and of beautiful living. An early supporter of the Impressionists, he appears, oddly formal in a top hat, in Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party. Marcel Proust studied Charles closely enough to use him as a model for the aesthete and lover Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.
Charles gave the carvings as a wedding gift to his cousin Viktor in Vienna; his children were allowed to play with one netsuke each while they watched their mother, the Baroness Emmy, dress for ball after ball. Her older daughter grew up to disdain fashionable society. Longing to write, she struck up a correspondence with Rilke, who encouraged her in her poetry.
The Anschluss changed their world beyond recognition. Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered, and Hitler's theorist on the 'Jewish question' appropriated their magnificent palace on the Ringstrasse. A library of priceless books and a collection of Old Master paintings were confiscated by the Nazis. But the netsuke were smuggled away by a loyal maid, Anna, and hidden in her straw mattress. Years after the war, she would find a way to return them to the family she'd served even in their exile.
In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century. Sweeping yet intimate, it is a highly original meditation on art, history, and family, as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves.


  • John Scully

    This is a delicate book, tracing the lineage of one of the great Jewish houses of Europe through the inheritance of Japanese netsuke. It is captivating, spanning multiple generations across the continent of Europe. The subjunctive examination of one's ancestors through research has its moments of tedium, but this is a fascinating work of historical fiction. The narration is very, very good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Lisa S

    This is a beautiful and captivating history of the Eufrussi family in European art world over the last century. It is, researched and written by ceramicist, Edward de Waal. It is beautifully read, as well.

Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss

by Edmund de Waal

has successfully been added to your shopping cart

Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss, Edmund de Waal