Letters to Camondo – by Edmund de Waal.

This very literary work of nonfiction comes to us from the hand of the same author who wrote The Hare with the Amber Eyes so popular a couple decades ago (2000).   It’s the same general material with the focus being on Count Moïse de Camondo  de Camondo, the Ephresis’ friends and neighbors in Paris. 

Letters to Camondo
By Edmund de Waal
2021 / 182 pages
Read by the author 3h 18m
Rating – 9.25
(Both read and listened

The book is told from the point of view of Edmund de Waal who is writing it as he goes through the archives of Moises Camondo in 2017 or so.  He’s writing the book in the form of short a letters to Camondo and asking him questions and informing the reader about many things.
It starts with descriptions of what de Waal is trying and the environment. Then he goes on to Camondo’s life which is told in chronological order but with many interesting digressions. It ends with Camondo’s death in 1935.  

It’s beautifully written but imo, there’s a bit too much French language for an American reader.  I suppose, as Tolstoy said about his French sections,  it’s part of the environment. “You can’t have War and Peace without the French language, it’s part of the environment.”  So too with Camondo, so much did he love France and all its art and culture that French has to be part of a book.

And de Waal also uses names a lot,  he types them all out in French. And because de Waal narrates the book I got the audio version, too.  But he says that naming things gives them meaning so there was a reason for that.

Anyway,  it’s not as wonderful as The Hare with the Amber Eyes, but it’s a great book and I think the hard cover might make an excellent gift for someone who enjoys art history.

(only 10 Minutes but excellent and there are other YouTube videos)

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