Professor Michael Manley-Casimir, who had suggested the book, led us in an extremely interesting discussion. Everyone had enjoyed reading it. In fact, I had sat up late one evening because I couldn't put it down. We liked Edmund de Waal's writing style, and found the book easy to read. His talent for creating an environment, and bringing alive the atmosphere, was much admired. His description of Charles Ephrussi's salon in Paris, with mention of the art hanging on its walls, evoked Paris in the time of the Impressionists. As I read, I enjoyed looking up the art on my Chromebook, as it was mentioned by de Waal: Renoir; Manet; Monet; were the names ringing down through the centuries. Charles Ephrussi knew them all, and was a patron.
|Palais Ephrussi, Vienna, Austria|
Another thing that our Group liked, was that, although this book was set in the time leading up to two world wars and during the wars, and touched on anti-semitism, it did so objectively. There was no hint of victimization or self-pity. His vivid description of what it must have been like for the Ephrussi to lose their home and possessions, made that unnecessary. The appalling facts spoke for themselves.
Michael had certainly suggested a book we all enjoyed reading. It's a brilliant book, gives lots of food for thought, and lively debate.