BOOK REVIEW: THE GUSTAV SONATA by Rose Tremain

Gustav Sonata review

Standing by the piles of THE GUSTAV SONATA in Waterstones worked.  The Junior CWs took the hint and a copy arrived for Mother’s Day.

Gustav is our hero (just as well, given the title) and we meet him living in poverty with his mother in post-war Switzerland.  They are poor because Gustav’s father, a policeman, died in what his mother calls a “hero’s death” during the war.  Gustav is a lonely child until one day a new boy, Anton, joins his kindergarten and the pair become lifelong friends despite their disparity in wealth and religion.

Time doesn’t travel in straight lines in THE GUSTAV SONATA, we hop back and forth. So having started immediately after the Second World War, we slip backwards to the eve of war.  Here we see Gustav’s mother meeting his father.  We witness their courtship and marriage, Gustav’s birth and his father’s death.  Suddenly lots of things make so much more sense.

Then we skip forward to see Gustav and Anton as grown men settled in their careers.  Well sort of settled, things have not gone as Anton dreamed.  When a chance comes to fulfil the hopes of his youth, Anton grabs it.  Now the focus becomes relationships.  Gustav with his ever-distant mother, Anton and his parents and of course Gustav and Anton.  THE GUSTAV SONATA is all about love, loss and friendship, who we are and who we choose to become.

THE GUSTAV SONATA by Rose Tremain

Published by Vintage

Paperback £8.99, Kindle £4.99

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