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Sarah Broadhurst's view...
Comparison: John Harding, Nick Hornby, David Nicholls.
Similar this month: Matt Beaumont, Jim Keeble.
Zermatt by Frank Schaeffer
Calvin Beckerâs strict fundamentalist upbringing means heâs never seen a film, watched television or danced. He even has to hide his five second-hand copies of Mad magazine in the attic.
Now he and his family â€“ his embarrassingly devout missionary parents and his sisters, the tyrannical 18 year-old Janet and the angelic Rachael â€“ are on their modest annual skiing holiday in Switzerland. For the Beckers, the Hotel Riffelberg had always provided a safe haven from the jazz-loving sinners who congregate further down the mountain in Zermatt, but this is 1966, the year of peace, love and the Beatles, and the world is changing.
As is the irrepressible Calvin. In his innocent 14 year-old body the hormones are raging, awakening a volcanic sexual curiosity and he willingly succumbs to the ample charms of Eva, the young waitress who both brings him breakfast each morning and introduces him to ecstasies beyond his wildest dreams. Itâs when Calvinâs mother catches him supposedly in the act that things start to go a awry, the resulting family meltdown triggering a crisis in Calvinâs father and a climactic end to his childhoodâ€¦ Laugh-out-loud funny, moving and wise, Zermattis an irresistible coming-of-age gem by the acclaimed author of Portofino.
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'Eloquently captures the atmosphere of place and period... Schaeffer describes both the pleasures and the occasional torments of childhood with charm and humour...the warmth of characterisation is matched by the novel's rich evocation of Italian life, and the accuracy with which it captures the nuances of 1960s manners'
'Not since Huck Finn has American literature been graced with a character as irresistible as Calvin Dort Becker'
ANDRE DUBUS III
'Beautifully written with great insight and unselfconscious humour'
'Evocative, funny and wonderfully observed, reading this book is a holiday in itself'
'Poignant and hilarious...by turns, sentimental, celebratory, evocative and very funny'
LOS ANGELES TIMES
About the Author
Publication date1st June 2005
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PublisherTransworld Publishers Ltd
CategoriesModern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
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