Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Sebastian by Christoph Fischer
Paulette Mahurin has this to say in her Goodreads review
Paulette Mahurin rated it 5 of 5 stars
What a marvelous and well-crafted story Christoph Fischer’s Sebastian is. The story starts with a young sixteen-year-old boy, Sebastian, receiving an amputation to his leg for an infection, from a rusty nail, that went untreated, due to fear of doctors and needles. The reader is instantly drawn in to this protagonist and his mother, Vera, as well as the medical situation that lingers throughout the story that takes twists and turns along with the plots and subplots to help define a character. What a marvelous and well-crafted story Christoph Fischer’s Sebastian is. The story starts with a young sixteen-year-old boy, Sebastian, receiving an amputation to his leg for an infection, from a rusty nail, that went untreated, due to fear of doctors and needles. The reader is instantly drawn in to this protagonist and his mother, Vera, as well as the medical situation that lingers throughout the story that takes twists and turns along with the plots and subplots to help define a character that goes from being weak to growing an inner strength and beauty. Sebastian’s story is the story of his family, the women who enter his life and the war that surrounds and defines them all.
The scenes begin with Sebastian living in a dwelling that houses the grocery store his father Franz works in, that was owned by his father, Oscar, (also Sebastian’s best friend). Also living with them is Oscar’s wife Rebecca who is mostly bed ridden with a bad back, his mother Vera who has a weakened condition. Sebastian is in and out of the hospital with complications from problematic healing leg. Because of the strain on the family workload help is needed and enters a beautiful 18-year-old Ingeborg who becomes infatuated with Franz to complicate matters and ends up with her being replaced by Eva who Sebastian has a crush on as he begins to come into maturity and is sexual hormones awaken. Eva has her own secret that unfolds in a fascinating way opening to a new hire, Margit and her mother, Peroska. When Concurrent with Sebastian becoming involved with Margit his mother, Vera, connects up with friends who play key roles in throwing twists and turns into the story, which involve mystical aspects, séances and connecting with the afterlife. A revelation and slip of communication sends all their lives into chaos and the war in the backdrop takes center stage as the story moves along poignantly and engaging the reader with great depth.
This is a time of great turmoil for people of Jewish faith, where divides are drawn with nations geography being molded and remolded, threatening to unsettle and disrupt millions of peoples. Sebastian’s story is a metaphor for lives thrown into turmoil because of war and what war does to individuals separately and as citizens. It is a story of how the human condition and stresses become heightened and exaggerated when threatened by personal and geographic political evils. This is a story of great compassion and selfishness, of jealousy and love, of loss and risking, of having material and losing it all, of families and finding out what is important, of loyalty and betrayal. It is a story that runs deep in all of us, with emotions displaying what it is to be human. It is a story of every man and every woman with themes and messages that any reader can relate to, right down to the surprise and unexpected ending, which is how we do live our lives, after all is said and done.
This intelligently and sensitively crafted story pulls the reader in, pulls at our heart strings, and keeps us glued to the page, long after the last one is closed, and the memory of Sebastian lingers, one that won’t be easily or readily forgotten. I loved Sebastian.
Christoph Fischer has this to say regarding his motivation behind writing the series and Sebastian specifically.
“Sebastian” is the second book in my Three Nations Trilogy, a series on war torn Central Europe that focuses on how lives could be changes by politics and cultural and ethnic changes. “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” was about a group of Jewish and Catholic people in Slovakia during WWII, “Sebastian” is about a family in Vienna around WWI. The stories are using similar themes but are not connected directly.
Sebastian is based on an idea I have always had of my grandfather when I was young. I unfortunately never met him because my grandfather had divorced my grandmother and lived with his new family on the other side of the Berlin Wall and we never met them until the late Eighties, by which time my grandfather sadly had already passed on. He lost his leg due to an accident, which is at the heart of “Sebastian”, a young man who has to come to terms with this loss, his responsibilities and the life in a time where great political and personal changes bring in a new era.
Amazon purchase link for the first book in his Trilogy