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The Life of Objects Audible – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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By N. B. Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Beatrice Palmer, a young woman in the west of Ireland, is bored with her constricting life as a shop girl in her family's haberdashery. Her life offers no possibilities until a glamorous countess comes along and whisks her away to a life of privilege in the wealthy household of the Metzenburg family in Germany. She imagines herself the lucky girl living a fairy tale life: "I, who'd been properly bewitched, was accompanying her to a distant kingdom where I would live in an enchanted forest and spin flax into gold."

Unfortunately, the year is 1938, Hitler is on the rise and World War II looms on the near horizon. When it becomes clear that war is inevitable, Beatrice has the option to return home, but her desire to live a larger life keeps her loyal to Felix and Dorothea Metzenburg.

Many stories of impending war center on people who either don't know or can't let themselves believe the consequences of staying. Ms. Moore's story is unusual in that the Metzenburgs (in particular, Felix) understand the consequences and yet decide to remain and face what is to come. For Felix, it isn't a loyalty to his country or a particular attraction to his estate (it's his wife's ancestral home). Instead, it's a soul-deep connection to his objects, his "treasure" as the family calls it. He stays to protect his priceless collection of art, antiques, jewelry and porcelain. These objects are in essence his identity; he has no desire to live in a world without their beauty.

For varying reasons, everyone decides to stay, even those who have the means of escape: Beatrice, because she wants no other life; household servants, out of loyalty to their employers; Dorothea, out of love for her husband.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 1938, Beatrice Palmer is willingly seduced away from her home in Ireland by self-styled Countess Hartenfels' promise to introduce her to a German woman who would be enchanted by Beatrice's skill in sewing lace. Using the name Maeve, Beatrice joins Herr Felix Metzenburg and his wife Dorothea at their home thinking to work as a seamstress creating lace enhancements for Dorothea. She soon finds that her role is more that of a poor relation working as a servant in their odd household.
The Life of Objects follows Beatrice (Maeve) and the Metzenburgs as they struggle to survive through World War II, first in Berlin, the later at the Metzenburgs country estate. It soon becomes apparent that Herr Felix is suspicious of the new Nazi government. As the war begins, he slowly moves his treasured paintings, Dorothea's jewelry, and much of their silver into hiding places around the estate. He simultaneously tries to help the local villagers, refugees from Poland and Eastern Europe, and wounded or deserting German soldiers while maintaining some semblance of family.
The story offers up many of the well-known atrocities against Jews, homosexuals, and opponents of Hitler's regime through the eyes of the Metzenburg's extended family. They live under the threat of death by their fellow Germans - Gestapo and SS - as well as from the nightly bombing raids across the countryside. Murder, rape, suicide, and destruction are described in some detail.
But I could never connect with either Beatrice or the events described. Somehow, I felt no involvement with the story. I am accustomed to my slowly (or, occasionally, quickly) rising adrenaline levels as I read a good mystery or suspense story - but nothing happened as I read The Life of Objects. While the book seems well-written and reads easily, something is missing.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An astonishing literary work of emotion & character. There is a desperate sadness associated with war and it seeps from these pages into its readers. VORZUGLICH (exquisite). Captivating intrigue.

What would it have been like to survive WWII on the home front of Berlin? How does a survivor of `ground zero' for a losing country change over wartime? Everyday life's struggles/joys; tragedy; atrocity; fear; all mixed with the common denominator of a humanness desire to survive (at least for some.)

"The Life of Objects", a seven-year, dark, gritty saga of Germany home front wartime survival, is a riches-to-rags epic. Post-war society fell into class levels associated with the extent of a family`s suffering. Then the Russian Berlin Sector became a socialist colony. This relatively short book packs all that into the pages. Characters of mixed religion and nationality unite to survive the hellish days of WWII.

Upon concluding the final page I felt strangely rewarded for having read; heart-sick for the survivors (even knowing them fictional), and again personally changed by WW2. A good book for war readers and history lovers. Certainly a look from a new perspective.

`
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Format: Hardcover
I do not recall reading anything before where the ironic outcomes of war are so beautifully drawn: the liberators (the Russians) are worse than the enemy, survivors of the war are as good as dead, and valuable possessions (The Life of Objects?) have uncertain value and maybe no value at all. This is a beautiful rendering of how fragile our lives are, especially when war is the backdrop. Yet (ironically, again) the aftermath of war is somehow worse, and even more fragile. Everything has changed. What to do now? Where to go?

Beautiful writing, beautiful metaphor, beautiful characters.
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