Gustav Sonata, The

Tremain, Rose

  12 Reviews

Gustav and Anton, Anton and Gustav. Gustav is the only child of an embittered and distant mother, while Anton is the musically gifted son of doting Jewish parents. Their close friendship formed as young children in the late 1940s, lays down the foundations for the rest of their lives.

Set in Switzerland, this complex story of friendship and of deception and betrayal, examines the playing out of conscience and conformity in a country espousing neutrality. [Larger font]



This was an amazing story of the lives of two boys who come from different backgrounds, but were best friends forever. The style of writing emphasized the importance of music in everyone's life. Beautifully written!
AUCK 422
We found this a gentle, tender and thought-provoking book. The language was understated but evocative, and gave the reader a subtle sense and understanding of the time and events. The characters were rounded and developed, and believable. Although we found it an easy read, it was a page-turner.
CHCH 299
All members loved this book, something which happens rarely. Beautifully written and absorbing, although some found the subject matter a bit depressing. A good discussion book as it covers so many large political issues along with more intimate family and relationship issues - although our discussion was hampered a bit because it was conducted via zoom during lock-down.
This is a well-written, slow paced story but an enjoyable read nevertheless. Using the construction of a 'Sonata' theme retained the interest of the readers in spite of the 'gloomy' beginning. The author's handling of the different characters, their emotions and relationships with each other is poignant and believable. Our discussion led us from 'relationships' to our realisation that we didn't really know a great deal about Switzerland's history, which led some of us googling for information!
PICT 005
The book covered many human issues and experiences within a well crafted framework ( the sonata form). Our group enjoyed a stimulating discussion thanks to the excellent notes supplied - much appreciated.
WELL 041
A beautiful book - a gem! Perfectly balanced 'sonata' form of three parts. Skilfully written with great insight and sensitivity, especially relating to the mind of the child, and his relationship with his mother. All characters beautifully drawn. Could easily read again.
WELL 041
Our sympathies were for Gustav coping as a young child, dealing with his mother's needs and lack of love for him. We had a good discussion about guns in Switzerland, Anton's selfish lack of compassion for Gustav, and Gustav's lack of emotion.
Most of us really appreciated Gustav's story. Very well written, easy to read (good dark print!), sad, sometimes funny, very poignant and difficult to put down. Excellent notes.
A poignant, rather melancholic story told in a simple style which explained the complexities of the characters. Everyone praised the way this complex story was depicted with its short chapters. Many interesting themes were discussed - particularly relationships, and Switzerland's part in the war, despite its supposed neutrality. A worthwhile read.
WELL 046
We all enjoyed this book, and found it readable and thought-provoking. The Swiss context provided an interesting perspective on World War II.
AUCK 332
We enjoyed this book. As with a sonata, the book's structure of three main sections had excellent characterisation. An easy to read yet complex story of friendship, deception and betrayal, it examines the playing out of conscience and conformity in a country advocating neutrality. Concisely and simply written.
WELL 130
We enjoyed the book with its vignettes and themes and motifs - rather like a sonata!