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The Gustav Sonata

The Gustav Sonata 1

A Novel

by Rose Tremain

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 30/01/2017

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $22.99 $19.50
What is the difference between friendship and love?

The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller
Shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Novel Award
Longlisted for the 2017 Women's Prize for Fiction

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' Observer

'The Gustav Sonata is beautifully rendered, and magnificent in its scope. It glows with mastery' Ian McEwan

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Penguin Random House
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain’s bestselling novels have been published in thirty countries and have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Sacred Country); Restoration was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Rose Tremain was made a CBE in 2007 and was appointed Chancellor of the University of East Anglia in 2013. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer, Richard Holmes.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Gustav Sonata

    by on

    On finishing the book, I could hardly believe that I had transited almost 60 years so smoothly and completely. I felt that I would know those people of Switzerland’s quietly undulating Mittelland if I were to meet them.

    I wondered why this would be so.
    ^The author writes in a clear and concise manner, focussing on just a few main characters, and their interactions, and this gives one a chance to develop a clearer understanding
    ^ As in a sonata, Tremain sets out the information . e.g ‘Erich was a hero’,

    ^and then the reason he was a hero comes in the second part, with all the ensuing problems and complexities that came from his heroism.

    ^ And then there is a continuing theme throughout the book. It is that of love in its different forms. These are seen through the life of Gustav.
    ^ It is in the devotion that Gustav gives to his cold, unloving mother.
    ^It is in the unwavering lifelong love and almost unquestioning support that he gives his childhood friend, Anton.
    ^It is in the love and acceptance of the poor boy by the Ziebels, who quietly make him part of the family -although they also use him to support Anton.
    ^There was Erich who loved hopelessly the voluptuous Lottie.
    ^There was the doting love of Anton’s mother who always hoped for and wanted the best for her surviving child.
    ^Then there was Anton, highly strung and self -centred, needing Gustav’s supportive love., who takes a very long time to find love himself.
    ^And there is even the hotel Perle in which Gustav expressed his unrequited love by pouring his energies into its quality , and caring for his guests in the best way he could.

    All these forms of love are interwoven against the background of a mundane small staid middle class Swiss town, whose very quiet ordinariness holds Gustav in its thrall.