Good Living Street: Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900

Tim Bonyhady. Pantheon, $35 (400p) ISBN 978-0-307-37880-4
This disquieting family saga begins in early 20th-century Vienna and ends in Sydney, Australia, portraying through three generations of the author’s family the patriotism, conservatism, and love of culture among Viennese Jewish haute bourgeoisie and their dispersal after the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. The section on the author’s maternal great-grandparents, Moritz and Hermine Gallia, is the book’s highlight. The Gallias, Jews who had converted to Catholicism, were patrons of Vienna’s modern artists, including Gustav Klimt (who painted Hermine’s portrait) and the art and design group Wiener Werkstätte. The descriptions of the early years of the Holocaust in Austria, as seen through the Gallias’ eyes, are vivid, including daughter Käthe’s arrest and interrogation by the Nazis (who knew of the family’s Jewish origins). Käthe and her older sister, Gretl, eventually fled to Australia; Gretl’s daughter Anne is the author’s mother. Bonyhady, an art historian and environmental lawyer in Australia, sticks so closely to the family story that he stints on historical context (e.g., he writes, “the Australian Jewish Welfare Society was ambivalent about Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis,” without further explanation). Still, Bonyhady’s book does a real service by unearthing the story of a prominent Jewish family during Vienna’s artistic flowering and the impact of WWII. 8 pages of color photos, b&w photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Open Ebook - 340 pages - 978-0-307-90681-6
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-1-74331-004-5
Ebook - 17 pages - 978-1-74269-302-6
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