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On Sunset

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In the tradition of The Hare with Amber Eyes and Running in the Family, a memoir of the author's upbringing by her grandparents in a fading mansion above Sunset Boulevard -- a childhood at once privileged and unusual, filled with the mementos and echoes of their impossibly exotic and peripatetic lives. Kathryn Harrison always understood that her family was beyond eccentric In the tradition of The Hare with Amber Eyes and Running in the Family, a memoir of the author's upbringing by her grandparents in a fading mansion above Sunset Boulevard -- a childhood at once privileged and unusual, filled with the mementos and echoes of their impossibly exotic and peripatetic lives. Kathryn Harrison always understood that her family was beyond eccentric -- they'd breached the bounds of the unconventional. She was largely raised by her grandparents in an outsized Tudor confection of a house on the periphery of Bel Air, which she thought of as "Sunset," her kingdom of the imagination, inhabited by the past and its numberless artifacts. True wandering Jews, her grandparents had arrived in Los Angeles in the forties after dramatic, globetrotting lives. Harry Jacobs had been a fur trapper in Alaska, a soldier in the trenches of the Great War, a traveling salesman in a Model T. Margaret Sassoon had lived a privileged life as a member of a Jewish merchant family in Shanghai, turning down offers of marriage from Russian princes exiled by the Revolution. Kathryn Harrison grew up in an almost mythical realm of their letters and artifacts and stories -- until declining finances forced to sell the house on Sunset in 1971, and night fell fast. On Sunset seeks to recover that childhood, that place, those lives -- and does so with piercing poignancy.


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In the tradition of The Hare with Amber Eyes and Running in the Family, a memoir of the author's upbringing by her grandparents in a fading mansion above Sunset Boulevard -- a childhood at once privileged and unusual, filled with the mementos and echoes of their impossibly exotic and peripatetic lives. Kathryn Harrison always understood that her family was beyond eccentric In the tradition of The Hare with Amber Eyes and Running in the Family, a memoir of the author's upbringing by her grandparents in a fading mansion above Sunset Boulevard -- a childhood at once privileged and unusual, filled with the mementos and echoes of their impossibly exotic and peripatetic lives. Kathryn Harrison always understood that her family was beyond eccentric -- they'd breached the bounds of the unconventional. She was largely raised by her grandparents in an outsized Tudor confection of a house on the periphery of Bel Air, which she thought of as "Sunset," her kingdom of the imagination, inhabited by the past and its numberless artifacts. True wandering Jews, her grandparents had arrived in Los Angeles in the forties after dramatic, globetrotting lives. Harry Jacobs had been a fur trapper in Alaska, a soldier in the trenches of the Great War, a traveling salesman in a Model T. Margaret Sassoon had lived a privileged life as a member of a Jewish merchant family in Shanghai, turning down offers of marriage from Russian princes exiled by the Revolution. Kathryn Harrison grew up in an almost mythical realm of their letters and artifacts and stories -- until declining finances forced to sell the house on Sunset in 1971, and night fell fast. On Sunset seeks to recover that childhood, that place, those lives -- and does so with piercing poignancy.

59 review for On Sunset

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Marquardt

    I devoured this book - it was such a pleasure to read about Harrison's childhood and loved the way she went back and forth between the lives of her grandmother and grandfather, whose lives traversed across histories and continents to meet in LA and eventually raise Harrison. We see Kathryn as a child, wondering at her grandparent's lives the way one might wonder at fairy tales. Pictures of their lives and their families are sprinkled throughout the book, and this helps to place them in relations I devoured this book - it was such a pleasure to read about Harrison's childhood and loved the way she went back and forth between the lives of her grandmother and grandfather, whose lives traversed across histories and continents to meet in LA and eventually raise Harrison. We see Kathryn as a child, wondering at her grandparent's lives the way one might wonder at fairy tales. Pictures of their lives and their families are sprinkled throughout the book, and this helps to place them in relationship to historical events as well as to class and sexuality. A snapshot of a bygone time, in all its pleasures and adventures as well as the repression and erasure of culture that came with British colonization. We keep seeing the young Kathryn trying to locate herself in relationship to the stories she hears, stories that live in her and create the writer that she becomes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    On SunsetA Memoirby Kathryn HarrisonDoubleday BooksDoubledayBiographies & MemoirsPub Date 02 Oct 2018I am reviewing a coy of On Sunset through Doubleday and Netgalley:Kathryn Harrison always knew that her family was eccentric, her family breached the bounds of the unconventional. Kathryn was raised largely by her grandparents in an outsized Tudor style home on the periphery of Bel-Air, which she thought of as ”Sunset” the kingdom that existed in her imagination., inhabited by the past and it 
On Sunset
A Memoir
by Kathryn Harrison
Doubleday Books
Doubleday
Biographies & Memoirs
Pub Date 02 Oct 2018
I am reviewing a coy of On Sunset through Doubleday and Netgalley:
Kathryn Harrison always knew that her family was eccentric, her family breached the bounds of the unconventional. Kathryn was raised largely by her grandparents in an outsized Tudor style home on the periphery of Bel-Air, which she thought of as ”Sunset” the kingdom that existed in her imagination., inhabited by the past and it's artifacts.
 Kathryn’s grandparents were true wandering Jews! Her grandparents had arrived in Los Angeles in the forties after leading globetrotting lives. Her Grandfather Harry Jacobs has been a fur trapper in Alaska, a soldier in the trenches during the Great War. As well as traveling salesman in a Model T. Her grandmother Margaret Sassoon has lived a life of privilege as a member of a Jewish Merchant family in Shanghai even turning down offers to marry Russian Princes who were exiled by the revolution. The family was supposed to sale the house due to failing finances in 1971, this book seeks to recover Kathryn's childhood in a way. I give On Sunset five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This was poignant and lovely...a nostalgic portrayal of an unconventional family and upbringing, compassionately told by Kathryn Harrison. Thank you Goodreads giveaways for the ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway; this did not influence my review. I initially found On Sunset difficult to follow; Harrison meanders and swiftly shifts topics and time periods. While she never develops a true organization for the book, I eventually found a rhythm in reading it. It is a strange book that is sort of a hybrid memoir/biography as much of the book is told from the perspective of hearing stories from her grandparents as a child in their house on Sunset Boulevard (thus the title). I won a copy in a Goodreads giveaway; this did not influence my review. I initially found On Sunset difficult to follow; Harrison meanders and swiftly shifts topics and time periods. While she never develops a true organization for the book, I eventually found a rhythm in reading it. It is a strange book that is sort of a hybrid memoir/biography as much of the book is told from the perspective of hearing stories from her grandparents as a child in their house on Sunset Boulevard (thus the title). The synopsis on the book jacket led me to expect more stories about the house itself and her family's financial difficulties. While these topics are interspersed throughout, I found the book primarily one of family lore. I was particularly enthralled with the photographs, some of which are over one hundred years old. Harrison shares some fascinating stories of her grandparents' lives but there is little overlap in their shared histories as a married couple or as parents. Typically Harrison alternates between stories of her grandmother's and grandfather's early lives before they met one another, though occasionally Harrison veers into stories of earlier ancestors or of the places her grandparents once resided - I found the latter topics a bit dry. The big disappointment of the book is that it ends when she and her grandparents are forced to sell their house on Sunset Boulevard; I was left wondering if her grandparents lived to see her to adulthood. An epilogue would have provided a more well-rounded ending.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    For me this was an unusual memoir, I had the book and audio, but spent the majority of the time listening, it was like a wild stream of consciousness. Usually memoirs are linear and straightforward, I went to school here, married, had job a, blah blah blah, but this was all over the map like a tumbling river. Easy to get lost in and obviously she is a free and fluid thinker. Enjoyed my arm chair travels back in time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ren

    3.5 Kathryn Harrison could describe a pile of dirt and make it sound like the most fascinating thing in the world. This one wandered a bit without ever reaching any clear conclusion or making a point but it's almost forgivable for her descriptions of atmospheres, of how things must have felt to someone or how she remembers that they felt to her. I liked her writing entirely from her childhood perspective, something very different from her other memoirs.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Murray Heltzer

    Poorly written memoir. Does not make you fully understand the make up of her family. Only touches on her relationship with her mother

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Brave, raw, interesting, engaging, & honest as always.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    3.5

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This was unexpectedly lovely. If you liked this, try The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Sofia Zinovieff.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Bundy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  13. 4 out of 5

    deni j. lorieau

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The writing is littered with details and jumps around so it is hard to follow. I received an ARC from NetGalley.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda Holmes

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sally

  17. 5 out of 5

    KarnagesMistress

    I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways on Friday, October 5, 2018.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amolo Ngweno

  19. 4 out of 5

    Claude

  20. 5 out of 5

    BookGypsy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Lynn

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    I am a fan of Kathryn Harrison’s books. She always shares her life episodes in a totally honest raw nothing hold back style.This book about growing up in a mansion over Sunset Blvd raised by her grandparents. An unusual raising fantastic home but money was scarce. A book that kept my interest reading about her unusual to say the east upbringing.Thanks#doubledaybooks #netgalley for advance copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  25. 5 out of 5

    Doubleday Books

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christine Brown

  28. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Often I wonder, why did an author bother to publish a memoir? Not so with this fascinating story of being raised in the home of grandparents who have had incredible lives. It is delightful to hear about the very different backgrounds of the grandparents and the unlikely happenings that brought them together. Anecdotes, after anecdote, charmed me as a reader. I wanted more! I am a huge fan of Harrison’s husband and I am glad that this very different novel totally enthralled me. Hope there is a sec Often I wonder, why did an author bother to publish a memoir? Not so with this fascinating story of being raised in the home of grandparents who have had incredible lives. It is delightful to hear about the very different backgrounds of the grandparents and the unlikely happenings that brought them together. Anecdotes, after anecdote, charmed me as a reader. I wanted more! I am a huge fan of Harrison’s husband and I am glad that this very different novel totally enthralled me. Hope there is a second volume, I would love to read about the rest of the story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Simpson

  31. 4 out of 5

    Neelybat

  32. 5 out of 5

    Staci

  33. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  35. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

  36. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  37. 5 out of 5

    Aras

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  39. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

  40. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  41. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

  42. 4 out of 5

    Hanna AlMeshari

  43. 5 out of 5

    Rhea Peterson

  44. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

  45. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

  46. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

  47. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

  48. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  49. 4 out of 5

    Christina Boodhan Juras

  50. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  51. 4 out of 5

    Amber

  52. 5 out of 5

    Ardis

  53. 5 out of 5

    Loren Bagwell

  54. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

  55. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

  56. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  57. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  58. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  59. 5 out of 5

    Gianna

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