The Gustav Sonata
£8.99 saving £1.80 (20%)
Please login (or signup) to download the extract
You will need to Sign Up or Login before you can download a book extract.
To Sign Up all you need to do is give us your email address and a password and let us know the types of books you like. Thank you.
Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017.
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016.
Profoundly moving tale of love and devotion, told in a steady, lucid style that reverberates with the latent undercurrent of suppressed, unfulfilled longings.
Switzerland, 1947, and five-year-old Gustav lives a lonely existence until he befriends Anton Zwiebel, a teary Jewish boy who joins his kindergarten. Gustav feels quite sorry for Anton, whose surname his means “onion”, and whose prodigious talent as a pianist is hampered by an incapacitating fear of public performance.
Gustav's defining first visit to the wealthy Zwiebel household is evoked with crystalline intensity. It’s a new world of music, and ice-skating and trips away that couldn’t be more different from the austerity of his own home life. Anton’s mother is spirited, while Gustav’s beloved Mutti is curt and distant, and has brought him up to “master himself”, to be "like Switzerland" (his father, a former Assistant Police Chief, died before Gustav was old enough to remember him). The boys cement their bond during a two-week holiday, when they play doctor and nurse in an abandoned sanatorium, deciding which of their imaginary patients live or die, and enacting the kiss of life.
When we meet Gustav in middle age, he's still playing at mastering himself, and overlooked by bitter Anton, while his own heart remains steadfast and true, though it’s still restrained and guarded. Meanwhile, the story of Gustav’s parents set some ten years earlier is hauntingly illuminating; there’s the misfortune that struck their first year of marriage, then the tragedy of how his father's efforts to save Jewish lives led to his own downfall. The perfect conclusion comes not as a crashing crescendo, but as a heartfelt swelling, as satisfying as releasing a gasp after a long-held breath. Truly, this poignant novel casts a long-lingering spell. ~ Joanne Owen
The Walter Scott Prize Judges said:
‘Set at first in Switzerland as the Second World War swirls around its borders, this novel is simply magnificent, by turns cold and bleak, life-affirming and always very beautifully written. The images in The Gustav Sonata filled my eye, its story captured my heart and it made me marvel at Rose Tremain's remarkable skills.’
Win tickets to the Borders Book Festival!
We have 4 tickets (2 pairs) to give away to one lucky winner to attend two Walter Scott Prize events taking place at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival on Saturday 17 June 2017. One pair of tickets is for a panel event with shortlisted authors, and the other is for the Prize event in which the winner is announced and presented. Click here to find out more about the Borders Book Festival.
Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation. Draw closes on 2 May 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 14 May 2017.
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
This is the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. What is the difference between friendship and love? Gustav grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav's father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav's life is a lonely one until he meets Anton. An intense lifelong friendship develops but Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav's are entwined until it is almost too late....
'This is a perfect novel about life's imperfection... Tremain is writing at the height of her inimitable powers... Remarkable and moving novel.' -- Kate Kellaway Observer
'The Gustav Sonata is a magnificent novel, heartbreaking, unsentimental and beautifully written, and it reinforces my opinion that there are few writers out there with the dexterity or emotional intelligence to rival that of the great Rose Tremain.' -- John Boyne The Irish Times
'Beautifully tender and brilliantly written novel... A tale of the most powerful part of any friendship: love.' ***** Stylist
'In The Gustav Sonata, Tremain once again proves herself to be a writer of exceptional talent ... Previous novels like The Road Home have already showcased her staggering sensitivity and capacity for empathy but they're here again, magnificently undiminished. Tremain is a writer who understands every emotion ... and it's ultimately this understanding that has produced another exquisite book' -- Matt Cain i
'Tremain has the painterly genius of an Old Master, and she uses it to stunning effect... Glorious.' -- Melissa Katsoulis The Times
About the Author
Publication date26th January 2017
More books by Rose Tremain
Author 'Like for Like'
PublisherVintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing
CategoriesModern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Ever purchased a book, read a few pages & thought I'm not going to enjoy this? Honest book reviews mean you'll never have that problem againJill Peters
What can I say, the clue is in the title Lovereading - and awesome books.Sarah Davis
It has opened my eyes to different authors and genres. Just log on and try, you will be surprised and not want for reading material again.Jocelyn Garvey
Books of the month/debuts of the month, kids/adults, fiction/non-fiction, free prize draws and free extracts, what's not to love?Emma Smith
Lovereading is pitched at just the right level for all the various types of people who enjoy reading in its many forms.Pam Woodburn
I love the 'like for like' author recommendations, it's like an old friend whispering in your ear.Emma Caddick
A well laid out site, I love the fact that is separates paranormal fiction from fantasy and horror, which other sites don't.Jen Rainbow
I love reading because my cares & woes vanish for an hour or two whilst I read of the joys, adventures, lives of the characters in the book.Jennifer Moville