Franz Huchel is a wide-eyed 17 year-old when he arrives In Vienna to start an apprenticeship with a tobacconist, courtesy of his mother who remains back in their mountain village. Everything is new to him, not least being the prospect of romance with a Bohemian girl, and the friendship of one Sigmund Freud. But it is 1937, dark clouds are rolling in, and momentous change is afoot.
Set against the backdrop of the rise of Nazism in Austria, this is a tender coming-of-age story that moves its protagonist from innocence to sober understanding, with a light touch and a wry humour.
This book was a bit bleak. Still, it provoked a lively discussion.
Half of our group really enjoyed the meandering pace of the book while the other half of the group felt it lacked 'crescendo'. Most people found the main character Franz endearing and likeable. The book provided a lot of material to discuss and the conversation we had was rich. Overall, enjoyable read with a good discussion.
A few loved the book, others found it mundane. But wonderful discussion through the questions leading us to appreciate the book more! It is well-written, and we enjoyed the character of Freud, adding humour.
Slow to begin, very descriptive. We felt the story picked up and became more interesting near the end. Mediocre read for this group.
This book was 'really up there'. It was easy to read but multi layered. Group enjoyed a good discussion. Some members will be inspired to read other books by this author.
Some of us 'enjoyed' this book, but others found it a bit slow.
Lots of great discussion here. Overall opinion a worthwhile read.
Increased our knowledge of Austria's war record. Provoked discussion on the role of the media.
A well-written story which was both moving and engaging. The picture of life in pre-WWII Vienna was realistically drawn, including the Nazi menace and shocking ending.
Most of the group enjoyed the integration of the fictitious with a real life figure (Freud). We found the language to be descriptive and beautifully crafted. Two members found the earlier part of the book lacked direction and was therefore rather tedious. But perhaps the very banality of the 'story' gave emphasis to the horror of Nazi occupation.
Several people did not finish this book for various reasons, but those who did were enthusiastic. The discussion centred around the unusual approach of limiting the story to what the characters could perceive directly at a time of major social disruption.
Most of us really enjoyed this book. Slow to start, the book developed into a quirky and interesting story. Loved the characters and their relationships - Franz and his mother relayed through postcards. Loved the dreams pasted on the shop door - a sad but delightful tale.
This book was a bit slow to begin with but became interesting with the introduction of Franz' friendship with Freud. The characters are engaging and their relationships well defined, as are the feelings he has for them. With the effects of Nazism on Vienna, Franz has to 'grow up' and deal with how it affects those he cares for and himself.
All favourable comments. Notes useful for helping focus the discussion. Well-written, characters well delineated, settings authentic, all provoked intensive discussion. Main character very likeable for honesty, and interesting ways of developing what his thoughts were as he matured. We learnt a bit more about this period of Austria's history and WWII. Recommended.
Another wonderful read - a real gem. Franz develops from a young man overwhelmed with the changes in his life, to first love, friendship with Freud, maturing to a mixture of idealism and daring in the changing circumstances of Austria with the Nazi take-over. Tinged with humour and understanding, this book covers a wonderful and touching story.
Most of the group found 'The Tobacconist' an interesting book, a coming-of-age story set in Austria in the years just before World War 2. Most commented on the unusual style of the novel in which the characters are seen as if from a distance, giving a dreamlike impression even as the naive central character tries to deal with finding a girl and the effects of fascism. An unusual novel - some thoroughly enjoyed it while others just found it interesting.