The Life of Objects-Susanna Moore

The Life of Objects

Susanna Moore

Knopf, Sep 18 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307268433

 

In 1938 in County Mayo, Ireland seventeen year old Beatrice Palmer meets Countess Inéz Hartenfels.  The visitor likes the teenager’s intelligence, enthusiasm and her exquisite lace handiworks.  Because of the lace, the Countess invites her to accompany her to Berlin as a lace maker for the wealthy Metzenburg family.

 

Beatrice arrives in Germany to be welcomed in the midst of chaos as the Nazi leadership is irate with Felix Metzenburg for rejecting an ambassadorship.  He, his Jewish wife Dorothea, Inéz, selected staff and Beatrice leave their Berlin house to the Nazis and relocate to their country estate taking with them their fabulous art collection.  Over the next seven years, Beatrice watches the couple trying to live their lives in their style while the horror of war encroaches.  Beatrice realizes her employer quietly protects a local Jew and other refugees while also hiding treasures for friends and trading personal items for food.  As the war winds down, the Soviets interrogate Felix while the three females continue to show their inner strengths in different manners.

 

This is a fascinating WWII character study of survivors as told through Beatrice’s filter.  The low-keyed storyline focuses on a resolute aristocratic couple quietly risking their lives by doing whatever they can below the radar screen to help others though Beatrice’s account is biased by her hero worship of Felix.  Readers who appreciate a discerning slow-paced historical will appreciate Susanna Moore’s novel.

 

Harriet Klausner

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