My name is Beatrice Adelaide Palmer. I was born in 1921 in Ballycarra, County Mayo, the only child of Elizabeth Givens and Morris Palmer of Palmerstown. 

The Life of Objects is the story of (you guessed it) Beatrice Adelaide Palmer. She is an Irish lace-maker, and is whisked away in what seems a fairy tale to live with Felix and Dorothea Metzenburg. She is introduced to artists, aristocracy, and actors. But World War II is looming, and the conflict arrives at the Metzenburg’s. The family and its servants go to their country estate, and try to preserve the old world. But Nazi terror just keeps advancing. Eventually, the Metzenburgs, who Beatrice (or Maeve) has become attached to, are forced to go into hiding.

I  liked the setting and the mood of The Life of Objects. The easy familiarity between Felix and Dorothea and their “servants” was lovely to see. Felix and Dorothea are two very nice people. I don’t know if something like that is at all realistic, but it was a good touch.

What I did find really unrealistic, though, was that Maeve would just be whisked away all of a sudden from Ireland and just taken to Germany. And then, she really didn’t do that much lace-making for all that. I also felt like Maeve’s character was kind of underdeveloped: we know that her teacher, Mr. Knox, was a great influence in her life, she loves books, and she loves observing birds. And that her parents aren’t particularly loving. But that’s about it. I wanted to know more about her, and some of the other characters.

I am interested in this particular part of history, but it didn’t really come alive, though it was interesting to learn about how the less sympathetic upper class fared during the war. But for much of the book, it seemed aloof from the lives of the people, and it was only at the end that the immediacy of the war became apparent.

Really, I loved the premise of the novel, but it fell a bit flat. I feel like a lot more could have been done with this one. I will say though, that the ad in The New York Times Book Review caused me to check this one out of the library, so it somewhat succeeded.

Read The Life of Objects:

  • if you like historical fiction
  • if you like books set during World War II
  • if you like Susanna Moore (I haven’t read any of her other books)

240 pages.

Okay book, but it left me wanting more!