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Publisher's Summary

2021 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

"With deep appreciation for Camondo's generosity and taste, de Waal takes listeners on a journey they won't forget." (AudioFile Magazine)

This program is read by the author

A tragic family history told in a collection of imaginary letters to a famed collector, Moise de Camondo

Letters to Camondo is a collection of imaginary letters from Edmund de Waal to Moise de Camondo, the banker and art collector who created a spectacular house in Paris, now the Musée Nissim de Camondo, and filled it with the greatest private collection of French 18th-century art.

The Camondos were a Jewish family from Constantinople, “the Rothschilds of the East", who made their home in Paris in the 1870s and became philanthropists, art collectors, and fixtures of Belle Époque high society, as well as being targets of antisemitism - much like de Waal's relations, the Ephrussi family, to whom they were connected. Moise de Camondo created a spectacular house and filled it with art for his son, Nissim; after Nissim was killed in the First World War, the house was bequeathed to the French state. Eventually, the Camondos were murdered by the Nazis.

After de Waal, one of the world’s greatest ceramic artists, was invited to make an exhibition in the Camondo house, he began to write letters to Moise de Camondo. These fifty letters are deeply personal reflections on assimilation, melancholy, family, art, the vicissitudes of history, and the value of memory.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Edmund de Waal (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Letters to Camondo

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Fabulous collector/collection: tragic end

I visited Musee de Nissim de Camondo in Jan 2006. I used the Metro and strolled through Parc Monceau with its winter garb: icy ponds, leafless trees, but still a beautiful backdrop for the Museum as well as the other lovely houses of the neighborhood in the 8th. I had done very little research, I just wanted a tour of a house museum, something I could 'do' in an afternoon. Ive spent the ensuing years asking everyone I meet if they've visited it. I've done periodic searches looking for more information on the family and this is the first I've found that is accessible and printed in English. My memories include the beautiful china display, furnishings, art, and a small book printed in Hebrew in Nissim's bedroom as well as the brief history of the death of Beatrice and her family in the holocaust. This book provides the history of this family using fictional letters. The story is compelling and the narration is believable. I've always thought that Beatrice should have taken the warnings of her friends and family to leave France... she thought she was immune. Her mother survived, having divorced Moise very early, married a French aristocrat and converted to Catholicism. Apparently she ultimately inherited what was left of her daughter's fortune although a portrait of herself as a child by Renoir hangs in a museum in Zurich. Now that I've finished listening I will start it again.

3 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book

Another fantastic book by de waal. Performance could be improved by including a native french speaker or the brilliant narrator of the hare with amber eyes.

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Lovely and poignant

This is a “follow one” only in one sense really to Edmond dwells magnificent book “the hair with the amber eyes

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Exquisite and subtle

Edmund Dr Wall's narration carries the depth of feeling in every word with which he frames his family's history and its profound betrayal by the nation they honored. How to memorialize an absence? A painful story exquisitely written.

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Enjoyed the French in the performance

Story well told with relevant history during the time period. I learned much about France and Paris

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Gorgeous and haunting

This book of 58 letters to the author’s distant relative is about belonging, loss and betrayal. I won’t forget it anytime soon.