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The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore
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The Life of Objects

by Susanna Moore

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  leahsophia | Dec 30, 2014 |
It tells the story of a young woman from Ireland, who develops a talent for making lace, which helps her get an offer to move to Germany and live with a wealthy couple there. She is eager to escape her confining life with her parents, so she accepts the offer. Unfortunately for her, this happens just before the start of WW2 and her employers are on bad terms with the German authorities. They move to an estate in the countryside after the war starts, and spend the war years there.
The book tells the story of what happens to them during the war, the gradual decline in their living standards, from wealth to nothing. It was interesting to see the effect of the war on Germans who were not party officials or others who had their good graces. ( )
  BillPilgrim | Mar 7, 2014 |
This wonderful novel tells the tale of a young Irish girl,unhappy with her bleak family, who travel to Germany where she will go in service to a wealthy family. The time is the 1938. She stays with the family though the war and it's aftermath. The characters are sympathetic and well developed and the horrible times are described with honesty and believability. Highly recommended. ( )
  gbelik | Aug 5, 2013 |
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this novel, which was at times difficult to put down, and at others quite difficult to get through. It follows the protagonist, Maeve (whose name is later revealed as Beatrice with no explanation for the deception), as she leaves Ireland to become a lace maker for a wealthy German family, on the eve of World War II.

One focus of the story is her fondness for finery, and her interest in “the life of objects.” We see her relationship with these objects change in myriad ways as she faces war and upheaval. She herself also changes, although these changes feel as though they’re viewed from a great distance rather than feeling authentic.

And there, I think, lies the problem. The focus of the novel is kaleidoscopic in nature—the journey of a girl from poverty to an environment of wealth, romance, war, the relationship between people and material goods—a great deal was tackled in a short novel, with the end result that while it generated interest, it never quite gathered sufficient depth to truly pull the reader in. In my final assessment, I think the author created a rich sense of setting and history, but the lack of character development made it difficult to connect to this story. ( )
  Litfan | Dec 26, 2012 |
This book is about a girl named Maeve during WWII. She leaves Ireland to become a lacemaker for a couple in Germany. The book details their lives throughout WWII.
I can say I enjoyed this book without actually understanding it clearly. I definately need to read up on WWII. If you are familiar with that time period in history you will enjoy this book more. ( )
  1983mk | Oct 11, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307268438, Hardcover)

Guest Review: Sarah Blake on The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore
Sarah Blake is the author of the novels Grange House, and The Postmistress, a New York Times Bestseller and winner of South Africa's Boeke Prize.

Many years ago, I heard Susanna Moore read from her terrifying novel In the Cut. I was riveted by her voice as slowly, steadily, and with unflinching surety, she read aloud the snuffing of a character’s life. As she neared the end, the entire bookstore forgot to breathe. Moore, performing a high wire act if ever there was one, led us coolly but with great sympathy into a world of darkness.

She was, that night, our Beatrice into Hell, and her new novel, The Life of Objects, offers another Beatrice leading us into the specific and largely untold story of the hell endured by the civilian German population caught in World War II. You may think you’ve read all there is to read about this war, but you will not have read anything like this.

“My name is Beatrice Adelaide Palmer,” the novel begins. “I was born in 1921 in Ballycarra, County Mayo, the only child of Elizabeth Givens and Morris Palmer of Palmerston.” Like Jane Eyre, or the heroines of Dickens or Trollope (whom this Beatrice reads avidly), Beatrice Palmer yearns past the borders of her life, into a wider world than her Irish village. And when a beautiful Countess notices Beatrice’s lace handiwork at a ball, and proposes to whisk her away to Berlin to visit her friends the Metzenburgs, possessed of a great house and “the best manners in Europe,” it seems this Beatrice has been touched by fortune. The year is 1938.

When the Countess and Beatrice arrive in Berlin, they discover that the Metzenburgs are in flight to their estate in the country, and though Beatrice is free to return to Ireland, she chooses to join the household as a lacemaker. She stays with them through the war’s beginnings, its long years, and its destructive end—when the Russian Army, murderous, vengeful, and random in its cruel attention, sweeps through the countryside.

Like A Woman in Berlin, this novel describes the horror of being caught in the web of indifferent historical forces. But what is new here, and the source of its power, is the ignorance and simplicity of its young narrator. Beatrice’s unsentimental, precise account of what happens in the last days of the war renders the horrible even more unfathomable. We know with the hindsight of history what it means when a beloved schoolteacher has vanished, or when an American soldier appears in the woods. But in Beatrice’s telling, she does not. And so the war begins to seem like something out of one of Grimm’s horrors. With the force of a folktale, The Life of Objects got me in its grip and has not let me go.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:05 -0400)

Drawn by a mysterious countess into the Berlin household of an aristocratic couple, Beatrice, a young Irish Protestant lace maker, is introduced to the highly rarified world of affluence and art collecting on the eve of World War II.

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