Sebastian: Volume 2 (The Three Nations Trilogy) Paperback – 1 May 2013
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About the Author
Christoph Fischer was brought up near the Austrian border in Bavaria and has since lived in Hamburg, London, Brighton and Bath. He always loved books and one of his first jobs was in a library. ‘Sebastian’ is his second book and is part of the ‘Three Nations Trilogy’. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012 and has a thematic connection but no direct link to the plot of Sebastian. Since becoming an author Christoph has begun to support other authors and has joined several internet author groups. The best of his reviews can be found on: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com For further information you can follow him on: www.christophfischerbooks.com www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer @CFFBooks
Top customer reviews
Sebastian's family is an odd bunch of characters that you can't help liking. The setting in Vienna at that time is very interesting and the characters that come into the family's life illustrate a multicultural society and the growing tensions really well. Fischer does a great job at exploring Sebastian's ideas of what his place in society should be. Sebastian starts dating one of the assistants who comes with her own baggage, while the war is only happening in the distance.
I liked the subplots; in particular one was very entertaining in which several rich women spend their time psycho-analysing and going to séances, as was the fashion then I think this was the start of new ageism?). Another subplot takes the story to Galicia, which was one of the main areas of the fighting and shows a different side to war times, in contrast to wealthy Vienna.
Sebastian is well written, unpredictable and an interesting historical novel, and is also a coming of age story about a young disabled man and his journey to self-acceptance. The book ends on a positive, inspirational note, and also with a wonderful twist.
Sebastian is a book to luxuriate in; a book to savor. With the poetic language of the novel, and the world painted by those words, I became utterly unconscious of the process of reading and instead was carried into the world of the story and the hearts and minds of the characters. I wanted to stay there forever. This is just how I felt when I first fell in love with reading.
Fischer's narrative is superb; prose that is scrupulous and lyrical, beautiful and exact. The only complaint I have about the story is that it had to finish.
This is a MUST read. INTELLIGENT, SENSITIVE, ENGAGING, PERFECT.
A synopsis of the story and a little bit of history about the Austro-Hungarian empire, is contained below for those who wish to read further....
Sebastian is set in Vienna in the early 1910's in the time of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Sebastian is the story of a young man who has to come to terms with the amputation of his leg just before World War I. When his father is drafted to fight he has to step up and manage the family grocery store through the hard times, bad fortunes and changes of personnel. Vienna is the capital of a multi-cultural and multi-religious, liberal society that is on the verge of collapsing into several split nations, a development accelerated by the war. Against this backdrop Sebastian is finding himself and his own place in life.
Sebastian is the second book in 'The Three Nations Trilogy' and the only one I have read to date (that's going to change as soon as I have finished this review!). The Trilogy is not written in chronological order nor linked via the characters or plot connections. According to various interviews with the author, The Trilogy is an attempt to illustrate themes of family, ethnicity and the concept of Nations in three very different yet similar times and settings in Central Europe.
The Austro-Hungarian empire began in 1867 with the Ausgleich - the "Compromise" - that saw the old Austrian and Hapsburg empire transformed into a new Austria-Hungary, a hybrid empire with a dual monarchy whose imperial life ended in 1918 with defeat in the first world war. Austria-Hungary contained many other countries and ethnic groups and 11 recognised languages. This curious amalgam of peoples included Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Romanians and Italians. For the duration of its existence its emperor was Franz Joseph I. He reigned for nearly 68 years, dying in 1916 at the age of 86.
Set mainly in Vienna - with some sections located in a devastated Galicia - this family saga takes place during World War I. Fischer brings history alive in this finely written novel.
We are party to the trials and tribulations of the Schreibers and Halaszes, the first a Jewish family, the second a refugee family following the Russian invasion of Galicia. The book is peppered with interesting details of life in Vienna, where bored women amuse themselves with seances and amateur psychotherapy while their hubands and sons are away fighting. The plight of Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire is highlighted along with the deprivations the Great War brought in its wake.
Fischer has an acute eye for the detail of family life and the fragility of relationships; the jealousies, health concerns and financial struggles. Although the Sebastian of the title - an amputee - sits at the centre of the novel, the other characters (mainly females) are fully fleshed-out and we are engaged in their personal journeys.
This is a rewarding read, a slow-burner with heart. I am looking forward to the third volume in Fischer's interesting trilogy.
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