The Gustav Sonata
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Winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction
A breathtakingly radiant story of an unlikely childhood friendship that survives the test of time.
Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem only a distant echo. An only child, he lives alone with Emilie, the mother he adores but who treats him with bitter severity. He begins an intense friendship with a Jewish boy his age, talented and mercurial Anton Zweibel, a budding concert pianist. The novel follows Gustav’s family, tracing the roots of his mother’s anti-Semitism and its impact on her son and his beloved friend. Moving backward to the war years and the painful repercussions of an act of conscience, and forward through the lives and careers of the two men, one who becomes a hotel owner, the other a concert pianist, The Gustav Sonata explores the passionate love of childhood friendship as it is lost, transformed, and regained over a lifetime. It is a powerful and deeply moving addition to the beloved oeuvre of one of our greatest contemporary novelists.
- September 2016
- 6.5 × 9.6 in
/ 256 pages
- Sales Territory: Worldwide including Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.
Endorsements & Reviews
“Tremain is one of those few writers you trust completely when she goes to any unfamiliar territory, historical or emotional… Tremain knows how to show all the terrible bleak things that can happen between mothers and sons… This most unconventional book offers no easy answer, which makes it as disturbing and electric as any high-wire act. ” — The New York Times Book Review
“[Tremain’s] expertise is evident in its gradual layering of personal history and its subtle mingling of lights and darks.” — Wall Street Journal
“The Gustav Sonata is beautifully rendered, and magnificent in its scope. It glows with mastery.” — Ian McEwan
“The Gustav Sonata is a work of extreme and painful beauty, the story of one profound love amid many failed relationships, and of the conflict between passion and self-control. Rose Tremain is one of the very finest British novelists, and deserves, with this brilliant novel, to reach a wide new audience.” — Salman Rushdie
“[F]rom this tangled mess of human relations, Tremain draws a conclusion that is simultaneously straightforward and sweetly transformative. Like so much else in this compassionate and musical novel, it hits a perfect note.” — The Telegraph
“This is a perfect novel about life’s imperfection…What Rose Tremain understands, above all, is the tragedy of temperament and the way it plays havoc with choice… Tremain is anything but an indulgent writer and is, here, writing at the height of her inimitable powers.” — The Guardian
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