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The Resource The Gustav Sonata : a novel, Rose Tremain

The Gustav Sonata : a novel, Rose Tremain

Label
The Gustav Sonata : a novel
Title
The Gustav Sonata
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Rose Tremain
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Growing up sheltered from the echoes of World War II, Gustav forges an intense relationship with a mercurial Jewish boy, Anton, a talented pianist who introduces him to the harsh realities of racism, tolerance, and cruelty during a friendship spanning half a century
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, 2016.
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Tremain’s (The American Lover, 2015) newest literary work, structured in three movements, traverses the shifting patterns of a remarkable friendship that runs deep and lifelong but isn’t always equally shared. In 1948, Gustav Perle is a kindergartner in the undistinguished town of Matzingen, Switzerland, when he befriends Anton Zwiebel, a sensitive, musically talented classmate. Anton’s kind Jewish parents encourage their bond; however, a mystery arises when Gustav’s brittle mother, Emilie, discourages Anton’s visits to the sparsely furnished apartment where the two live. Emilie instructs Gustav to “be like Switzerland . . . separate and strong,” and the novel affectingly explores the cost of remaining neutral in both a personal and political sense. In effect, Gustav becomes the emotional anchor for his beloved, conflicted friend, who dreams of being a concert pianist yet is held back by immense stage fright. The later sections look back to the 1930s, depicting his parents’ troubled marriage and a moral dilemma faced by Gustav’s late father, and then move ahead to the 1990s, as Gustav ponders his life choices and relationships. An extraordinarily gifted writer, Tremain illuminates her characters’ lives with care and understated elegance. She finds great meaning in both world-changing events and smaller, quotidian moments. Though fairly short, her novel manages to capture the full range of a man’s interior life. -- Johnson, Sarah (Reviewed 8/1/2016) (Booklist, vol 112, number 22, p39)
  • Tremain’s (The American Lover) melancholic latest centers on the lifelong friendship between Gustav Perle and Anton Zweibel. The book begins in 1947 Switzerland with Gustav and his mother, Emilie, a selfish woman whom Gustav loves in spite of her inability to nurture him. He never knew his father, only that he died in the war. When Anton arrives at Gustav’s kindergarten, and Gustav invites him home, Emilie says, “But of course he is a Jew... The Jews are the people your father died trying to save.” Anton is a talented but nervous child whose well-to-do parents encourage his desire to become a concert pianist. The boys are inseparable, sharing many sweet moments that Tremain beautifully crafts. Like a sonata, the book is divided into three parts. The second section goes back in time to the war following Gustav’s parents’ tragic marriage and the unraveling that hardened Emilie’s heart. In the last section, Gustav has become a lonely but successful middle-aged hotelier in his Swiss hometown. Anton, after years of teaching music, tries to rekindle his career as a pianist, with disastrous personal results. The great strength of Tremain’s writing is her brilliant, uncanny ability to capture the interior life of a child and to celebrate the triumphs of the many older characters populating the final, redemptive portion of the novel as they “become the people always should have been.” (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed 07/25/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 30, p)
  • Young Gustav Perle is taught by his mother that he must "master himself" to be like the people of their homeland of Switzerland: strong, moralistic, and independent. To follow one's emotions only leads to heartbreak and bitterness. At age five, Gustav becomes friends with Anton, a piano prodigy from a wealthy Jewish family. While all of Europe is struggling during the years following World War II, the boys are not yet aware of the difficulties that their parents endured. Stepping back a few years, we learn the story of Gustav's widowed mother. Lust, trust, and betrayal have left Emilie Perle and her son bereft of love or hope. Gustav's friendship with Anton and his family provide the only light in his life. In the third movement of this "sonata," we see the friends in middle age, when Gustav owns a small hotel, always tending to the needs of others. Anton still thrives on music, yet a lifetime of stage fright has taken a great toll. VERDICT With delicate prose that so well captures the feelings of innocent children as well as conflicted adults, Tremain crafts an engaging, emotionally driven story that tugs firmly at the heartstrings. [See Prepub Alert, 3/28/16.] --Susanne Wells (Reviewed 10/01/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 16, p76)
  • /* Starred Review */ Like an intense, beautiful, and deeply moving piece of music, Tremain's captivating historical novel hits all the right notes.When we first meet Gustav, the protagonist of Tremain's (Merivel: A Man of His Time, 2012, etc.) exquisite novel, he is 5 years old and living with his none-too-happy widowed mother, Emilie, in their extremely modest apartment in the small Swiss town of Matzlingen. The year is 1947, and the postwar mood is grim, yet Gustav finds patches of color, flavor, and beauty in the drab, gray world he and Emilie inhabit: the dark purple of a nearly new lipstick he discovers in the gratings of the church he and his mother clean to supplement her income from working in a cheese cooperative; the taste of Emilie's knodel; the bloom of the cherry tree in their building's courtyard. Gustav's mother has offered him one chief lesson: he must "master himself," as, she says, his late father did before him. "You have to be like Switzerland," she tells him. "You have to hold yourself together and be courageous, stay separate and strong. Then, you will have the right kind of life." Into this relatively cheerless world walks Anton, a talented yet moody Jewish musical prodigy who becomes Gustav's most treasured friend. In concert with Gustav's story, Tremain, who won the 2008 Orange Prize for The Road Home, also tells that of his father, Erich, a strong, handsome assistant police chief who followed his conscience and his heart. Eventually, Gustav's lifelong friendship with Anton helps him to unlearn the stern lessons of his mother and unlock the secrets and yearnings of his own heart. Spanning the decades from 1937 to 2002, Tremain's novel is less sprawling than it is deeply intimate, a soul-stirring song about friendship, conscience, and love.(Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2016)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10524529
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Tremain, Rose
Dewey number
823/.914
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6070.R364
LC item number
G87 2016
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Friendship in children
  • Male friendship
  • Friendship
Target audience
adult
Label
The Gustav Sonata : a novel, Rose Tremain
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First American edition.
Extent
240 pages
Isbn
9780393246698
Lccn
2016012494
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 937452537
  • (OCoLC)937452537
Label
The Gustav Sonata : a novel, Rose Tremain
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First American edition.
Extent
240 pages
Isbn
9780393246698
Lccn
2016012494
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 937452537
  • (OCoLC)937452537

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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