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The Life of Objects
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012
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Description

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.

This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide. 

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/18/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307961037
ASIN:
B007QPHHW6
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Susanna Moore. (2012). The Life of Objects. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Susanna Moore. 2012. The Life of Objects. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Susanna Moore, The Life of Objects. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Susanna Moore. The Life of Objects. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Susanna Moore is the author of the novels The Big Girls, One Last Look, In the Cut, Sleeping Beauties, The Whiteness of Bones, and My Old Sweetheart, and two books of nonfiction, Light Years: A Girlhood in Hawai’i and I Myself Have Seen It: The Myth of Hawai’i. She lives in New York City.
      • name: Susanna Moore
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publishDate
2012-09-18T00:00:00-04:00
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title
The Life of Objects
fullDescription

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.

This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide. 

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: J. M. Coetzee
      • content:

        "A frightening and wholly convincing evocation of life in Germany during the twilight of the Third Reich."

      • premium: False
      • source: Joan Didion
      • content: "I find this book exhilarating--truly exciting, new, everything good--the people, the clothes, the food: every word."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers
      • content: "This is a deceptively simple novel that manages that uncanny trick of great fiction: turning the familiar (ambitious provincial girl, World War II, glamorous aristocrats) into a thrilling, enchanting story you've never encountered before. Imagine Downton Abbey crossed with In the Garden of Beasts as fashioned by a literary master at the peak of her powers."
      • premium: False
      • source: Tracy K. Smith, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry
      • content: "In The Life of Objects, Susanna Moore tells the story of a young woman's initiation into the worlds of beauty, suffering, cynicism, and grace. What astounds me about this work is its ability to attend with equal fidelity to the quiet nuances of self-discovery and the deceptions and depravities of World War II. This is a lyrical and courageous book."
      • premium: False
      • source: Edmund White
      • content: "The Life of Objects isn't long but it gives the full sweep of the Nazi reign and the Soviet occupation. Its details are so convincing, it reads like a memoir not a novel--a magnificent achievement."
      • premium: False
      • source: Alec Wilkinson, author of The Ice Balloon
      • content: "I hadn't realized that the lives led by people in the camps had a shadow existence outside the fences, that people were constantly faced with the chance to step one way or the other so that the person next to them would be chosen instead, and that forever after they had to bear their choice. Treachery one wants to call it, but it isn't so simple. Some of the details and evocations of the house and the landscape and the habits of the connoisseur and the self are so striking that at times I had the feeling I was reading a memoir, something like Edmund Gosse, where the writer is trying to keep his head among belligerent circumstances, or, on the other hand, fiction like Samuel Butler's. The writing in places is close to a standard that is nearly flawless. So much can happen in a sentence, by such slight (to the reader) but rigorous and elegant means. I nearly gasped at some parts. And there is something gravely and humanly funny about others."
      • premium: False
      • source: Susan Wheeler, winner of the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts & Letters
      • content: "The Life of Objects is absolutely gripping in the precision of its wartime narrative, and chilling in its evocation of a fidelity to the sensuality of this world in the face of the most deeply cynical of the world's capacities. This extraordinary novel speaks to class, emigration and tragedy in our time as devastatingly as Buddenbrooks spoke to Thomas Mann's own young century."
      • premium: False
      • source: Nicola Griffith, author of The Blue Place and Ammonite
      • content: "A marvelous book, devastating in its simplicity. It's a beautifully controlled examination of a life stripped, like a body in wartime, of inessentials. I love the fact that kindness--though not sentimentality--turns out to be an essential. But for me the heart of the matter is Moore's language: as strong as plainchant, and as beautiful."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 6, 2012
        In Moore’s (In the Cut) latest novel, objects have complicated lives—they’re bought, collected, requisitioned, buried, stolen, sold, and bartered—and so do people. It’s Germany during WWII, and strange and awful occurrences are becoming common. Even the rich and politically connected Felix and Dorothea Metzenburg can no longer guarantee their safety—or that of Beatrice Palmer, the book’s narrator, who, in a series of unlikely circumstances, has come from Ireland to work for them. The bulk of the story takes place on Dorothea’s country estate, to which the family, with 23 wagons of Felix’s art and objects, retreat when Berlin becomes untenable. There the war switches between a distant rumor on illegal radio broadcasts and, with food shortages, disappearances, and bombings, a reality. It becomes clear that Felix’s moral and aesthetic sensibilities will not allow him to cooperate with the National Socialist state. Although the book starts slowly, once we’re accustomed to Beatrice’s measured style, she’s an appealing, sometimes touching guide to a world where luxury and devastation coexist; friends may be spies; a Cranach painting means less than the potatoes it buys; all kinds of refugees seek safety on the estate; relationships change; and safety, although not love, is illusory. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        September 1, 2012
        Moore (The Big Girls, 2007, etc.) focuses a narrow flashlight on World War II, specifically the daily struggles of an aristocratic couple that remains in Germany despite abhorring the Third Reich. In 1938 County Mayo, bookish 18-year-old Beatrice is desperate to escape her humdrum life. So she is thrilled when a visiting German countess, impressed by Beatrice's lace work, offers to take her to Berlin as a lace maker for the fabulously wealthy Metzenburgs. Countess Inez is unaware that the German government, angry with Felix Metzenburg for refusing an ambassadorship, has requisitioned the Metzenburgs' elegant home. Soon, they decamp to their rural estate with their fabulous collection of art and objects in tow, along with Beatrice and a couple of their most loyal retainers. For the next seven years, Beatrice bears witness as the Metzenburgs attempt a life of grace despite the war. At first, it is hard to tell whether Felix is a man of scruples or just "exquisite taste" and extremely good manners. But details accrue: his protection of the Jewish intellectual who teaches German to a smitten Beatrice, the odd mix of guests who pass through, the treasures he hides for friends and those he trades for food, the refugees he takes in. By the time conquering Soviets take Felix away for questioning, he has become a saintly figure in Beatrice's eyes. Meanwhile, Felix's devoted wife, Dorothea, whose Jewish heritage is an open secret, becomes a tough survivor, as does Beatrice herself. And then there's Inez, captivating but elusive. Actually Cuban (and Felix's former lover), she divorces her German count for an Egyptian prince but continues to flitter in and out of Germany. Maddeningly selfish and superficial but surprisingly generous, she leaves Beatrice wondering, is she WWII-era Eurotrash or a skillful spy? Moore's subject is rectitude. Even when the subject matter is graphically horrendous, the narration remains as reserved and understated as the Metzenburgs, who prefer not to reveal how deeply they feel, how willingly they sacrifice, how daringly they risk.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 15, 2012

        In this latest from Moore, who should be better known, Irish Protestant lace maker Beatrice leaves behind her ordinary existence when she's asked to join the elegant and aristocratic Metzenburg household in Berlin. Lucky Beatrice--except that this is the 1930s, and soon she is not living a fairy tale but bearing witness to atrocity.

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        September 1, 2012
        Seventeen-year-old lace maker Beatrice Palmer is overjoyed when she gets the chance to leave her suffocating hometown in Ireland to become a seamstress for a prominent German family. The year is 1938, and Beatrice arrives to find that the Metzenburgs' Berlin home has been requisitioned by the chancellery and most of their servants conscripted. Felix, an art collector and former ambassador, and his wife, Dorothea, the daughter of a Jewish banker and a German baroness, leave with 20 wagons of paintings, silver, and furniture to live quietly at Dorothea's estate 40 miles south of Berlin. But within a few years, the refined Metzenburgs, appalled by Hitler's actions yet unwilling to leave their beloved country, find themselves reduced to living in the forest, sharing what little food they have with the local villagers. The war's end brings little relief as the Red Army and thousands of refugees descend on the countryside. Award-winning author Moore delivers a heartrending portrait of the ravages of war, which is all the more poignant for Beatrice's dispassionate narration. An elegant and moving tribute to the endurance of the human spirit.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription

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,...

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