The Life of Objects

The Life of Objects

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
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In 1938, seventeen-year-old Beatrice, an Irish Protestant lace maker, finds herself at the center of a fairy tale when she is whisked away from her dreary life to join the Berlin household of Felix and Dorothea Metzenburg. Art collectors, and friends to the most fascinating men and women in Europe, the Metzenburgs introduce Beatrice to a world in which she finds more to desire than she ever imagined.

But Germany has launched its campaign of aggression across Europe, and, before long, the conflict reaches the Metzenburgs' threshold. Retreating with Beatrice to their country estate, Felix and Dorothea do their best to preserve the traditions of the old world. But the realities of hunger and illness, as well as the even graver threats of Nazi terror, the deportation and murder of Jews, and the hordes of refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army begin to threaten their existence. When the Metzenburgs are forced to join a growing population of men and women in hiding, Beatrice, increasingly attached to the family and its unlikely wartime community, bears heartrending witness to the atrocities of the age and to the human capacity for strength in the face of irrevocable loss.

In searing physical and emotional detail, The Life of Objects illuminates Beatrice's journey from childhood to womanhood, from naïveté to wisdom, as a continent collapses into darkness around her. It is Susanna Moore's most powerful and haunting novel yet.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307268433
0307268438
Characteristics: 239 p. ; 22 cm.

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b
bluehydrangea
May 29, 2015

A wonderful novel that succeeded on every level for me: interesting, moving, great characters, and beautifully written. The fairy tale references create a feeling of timelessness despite the World War II setting. I loved the restless energy of the ending.

u
uncommonreader
Feb 26, 2014

It is difficult to understand what motivated Moore to write so sympathetically about the aristocratic class and their life of objects and so negatively about the liberating Red Army. I found it annoying that she always referred to the Soviet Union as Russia. In any case, the heroine grows up and leaves although it is unclear what she has learned.

i
IV27HUjg
Jan 22, 2014

Also good audiobook

c
calvoer
Aug 06, 2013

This would make a good BBC miniseries. An old story, the decline of the pre-war aristocratic class, told in a fresh and original voice. An unusual take on the WWII novel, this novel’s subject is the Metzenburgs, an entitled non-Jewish family in Germany whose members live for art, for beauty, and style but not for politics. A friend gives them a young Irish lacemaker as a whimsical “gift,” and it’s through her perspective that we see the family slowly being pulled into the vortex of war. The style is somewhat reportorial, lacking in emotion, but the effect nonetheless devastating. The first part might seem slow going, as the family and staff fuss over objets d’art and various seemingly superficial events, but the story builds steadily and I’m glad I stuck with it.

m
maipenrai
Feb 17, 2013

**** In 1938, Beatrice, a young Irish lace-maker finds herself transported into the world of a family of wealthy Berlin art collectors. She is caught in the middle of World War II with the horrors of deportations, Nazi persecution, refugees and the Red army. Highly recommend, especially if you are are as interested in the WWII era as I am.

l
lgold08540
Jan 06, 2013

not the typical wwII story that i expected. the narrator grows and changes before the reader's eyes. very well written.

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