Listen free for 30 days

The See-Through House

My Father in Full Colour
Narrated by: Shelley Klein
Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Shelley Klein grew up in the Scottish Borders, in a house designed on a modernist open-plan grid; with colourful glass panels set against a forest of trees, it was like living in a work of art.

Shelley’s father, Bernat Klein, was a textile designer whose pioneering colours and textures were a major contribution to 1960s and '70s style. As a child, Shelley and her siblings adored both the house and the fashion shows that took place there, but as she grew older Shelley also began to rebel against her father’s excessive design principles. 

Thirty years on, Shelley moves back home to care for her father, now in his 80s: the house has not changed and neither has his uncompromising vision. As Shelley installs her pots of herbs on the kitchen windowsill, he insists she take them into her bedroom to ensure they don’t ‘spoil the line of the house’.

Threaded through Shelley’s book is her father’s own story: an Orthodox Jewish childhood in Yugoslavia, his rejection of rabbinical studies to pursue a life of art, his arrival in postwar Britain and his imagining of a house filled with light and colour as interpreted by the architect Peter Womersley.

A book about the search for belonging and the pain of letting go, The See-Through House is a moving memoir of one man's distinctive way of looking at the world, told with tenderness and humour and a daughter’s love.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio on our Desktop Site.

©2020 Shelley Klein (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The See-Through House

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An impossible act to follow

When I started listening to this, I was all set to return it. I found Shelley Klein's delivery dreary, her voice apparently afflicted by clogged sinuses. I'm very glad that I persevered despite the narration (the sinus condition did improve), because it is one of the most unusual & beautifully expressed memoirs, and the most powerful analysis of grief that I have ever read. Shelley Klein was born in 1963 to Bernat & Peggy Klein in the ultra modernist house, High Sunderland, designed by Bernat's friend the distinguished architect Peter Wormersley in the late 1950s. Built on the Scottish borders, it is a single storey ingenious interconnection of areas, the whole house bathed in light from the vast expanses of glass which draws in the carefully designed green spaces outside. From white crockery, chairs (not to be sat on) & tablecloths and napkins dyed to match in an array of colours, every object within was exquisitely designed. This is the house embedded into Shelley's fabric and soul. The book is a paean to the entwined beings of her father, the house and herself. It is as deep textured as the textiles which Beri (as she called her father) designed and which were adopted by fashion houses including Dior and Chanel in the 1960s and 1970s. Shelley is as sensitive as her father to the colours of the landscape which he wove into his textiles and art - her descriptions of colours are beautiful. After decades away, Shelley returned to High Sunderland to look after her father after the death of his precious wife. Her memories weave through the past and present with the gigantic presence of this colossus of a father, a Jugoslavian Jewish emigre whose mother had died most cruelly in Auschwitz. His past was thus too painful for him to contemplate; High Sunderland represented the future. Nothing must spoil the lines in the house: no mis-placed coat, no pot of herbs.How she had longed as a child for a dog or a Christmas tree! Beri's adamantine mind set could infuriate her; they do argue. But they're bound by a love so deep that life after his death in his nineties, Shelley suffers agonies of grief anatomised with searing honesty and insight. How could anything match what was past? How could she ever 'move on' and leave this house? The books is beautifully written ( "the porcelain calm of a Spring morning"); her metaphors are striking as in the "emotional origami" of grief as the past falls in on itself. A wonderful book!

2 people found this helpful