The challenge to overcome handicaps in the presence of war,
October 3, 2013
This review is from: Sebastian (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)When a book opens before you, you expect to enter into a new reality--here, it is dropped upon you with a rarely seen immediacy. From the very first sentence, when the Serbian doctor tells Vera, "I am afraid I won't be able to save his leg," you understand in your bones how hard she tries to remain composed, so as not to frighten her son. Having stepped on a rusty nail, Sebastian has been hiding his injury from her, which is about to cost him dearly: the amputation of his leg, and the blow to the way he perceives himself at this sensitive age, both of which will eventually drive him to find his bearings, as he must. And not only he must overcome the limitations of his handicap, and come into his own-so must other characters, such as his frail mother. This is a time of war. We must all grow up. We must all find our inner power.
The author, Christoph Fischer, has drawn life in Vienna with vivid detail, illustrating the intricacies of the pre-World War I era with great imagination, which is underpinned by careful research of historical aspects. As the father leaves for war, Sebastian is charged with being the man in the family; not an easy task for any young man, and it is even more of a challenge for Sebastian. His is an imbalanced, stilted world, controlled by the women left behind, both his mother and the mother of his beloved Margit, who makes her daughter leave him and follow her to Galicia, in search of her father. I was reminded of several women in my own family, and smiled with awe and affection at the amazing (if sometimes annoying) power and initiative of Jewish mothers...
I am yet to read the first part of The Three Nations Trilogy, The Luck of the Weissensteiners. But to tell you the truth, sometimes I like reading one volume of of a trilogy out of order, to see if it holds on its own. Sebastian does.
Highly recommended. Five stars.
Sebastian is the story of a young man who has his leg amputated before World War I. When his father is drafted to the war it falls on to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty and hopefully find love.
Sebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the ‘golden days’ of pre-war Vienna and the timed of the war and the end of the Monarchy while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dear.
Fischer convincingly describes life in Vienna during the war, how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the Monarchy, the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an era.
As in the first part of the trilogy, “The Luck of The Weissensteiners” we are confronted again with themes of identity, Nationality and borders. The step back in time made from Book 1 and the change of location from Slovakia to Austria enables the reader to see the parallels and the differences deliberately out of the sequential order. This helps to see one not as the consequence of the other, but to experience them as the momentary reality as it must have felt for the people at the time.
Short Biography: Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he is still resident today. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; 'Sebastian' in May 2013.He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.