A chronicle of turbulent times and memorable characters.Sebastian is a long novel that chronicles a complex period of Austrian history by following the life of a Jewish family living and working in Vienna The difficulties of the family poor Sebastian loses a leg at the very beginning of the book and this will change his whole life, his mother, grandmother and grandfather have health problems, his father disappears in the Great War reflect the turbulent historical period that Europe lives in A chronicle of turbulent times and memorable characters.Sebastian is a long novel that chronicles a complex period of Austrian history by following the life of a Jewish family living and working in Vienna The difficulties of the family poor Sebastian loses a leg at the very beginning of the book and this will change his whole life, his mother, grandmother and grandfather have health problems, his father disappears in the Great War reflect the turbulent historical period that Europe lives in the early XX Century One of the beauties of the book is how it manages to paint a very vivid portrait of the Viennese society of the period, cosmopolitan, complex and with its great variety of nationalities, religions and unwritten rules The novel shows us the wider historical events and how these affect a particular family Thanks to the characters who come into contact with the family we can gain a wider perspective, as we get to see how people from Galicia felt, the difficult situation of Orthodox Jews from that area, how somebody who is known as a patriot today, might end up in the wrong side tomorrow through circumstances not always of their making The shop at the centre of the book offers a great opportunity to understand the ins and outs of the public relations between the diverse groups, both from the point of view of the clients and also the staff Sebastian is the centre of that world, and he grows from a weak and cowardly young boy to a mature, well adjusted and highly moral individual We follow his education, his taking responsibility for the family business and the whole family, his romantic education, his fatherhood The Viennese society of peace and war times are vividly depicted from a very personal point of view, filtered through the conscience of the characters, some of whom we might feel closer to than others, but who are all multi dimensional and credible We have proud mothers, psychoanalysis buffs, paranoid anti Jewish women, mediums, spies I congratulate the author for his ability and talent in interweaving the many complex threads to create a wonderful patchwork of characters, lives and historical events that kept me engaged at both an intellectual and an emotional level I m sure this won t be the last one of his books I read Although the book is part of a trilogy I understand from the description that each book can be read independently and Sebastian is a stand alone novel Christoph Fischer continues to display his mastery of historical fiction displayed in The Luck of the Weissensteiners in this book, Sebastian, the second installment in his Three Nations Trilogy This novel traces the life of Sebastian, a teenaged boy who, shortly before the outbreak of WWI, has his leg amputated below the knee due to an untreated infection As in the Weissensteiners, Sebastian and the other characters symbolize the different peoples and socio political forces at play in their Christoph Fischer continues to display his mastery of historical fiction displayed in The Luck of the Weissensteiners in this book, Sebastian, the second installment in his Three Nations Trilogy This novel traces the life of Sebastian, a teenaged boy who, shortly before the outbreak of WWI, has his leg amputated below the knee due to an untreated infection As in the Weissensteiners, Sebastian and the other characters symbolize the different peoples and socio political forces at play in their world, in this case, the Austo Hungarian Empire in it s final days The aspirations, dreams, and conflicts engulfing this ensemble cast serve as a brilliant historical metaphor for that time and place Mr Fischer displays his deep historical knowledge and great skill at personifying events and social conflicts, no mean feat given the multitude of ethnic groups, nationalistic aspirations, and complex politics going on in the Empire in this time frame with the end result being its dissolution But not to be forgotten is Mr Fischer s feel for the humanity of his characters this is a human story, with the human drama in the forefront, the grand and petty human aspirations unfolding before the historical backdrop I recommend Sebastian for readers for it s keen historical insight and human drama bravo What an amazing story Christoph has again shown his diligence in research The historical facts are great This story, second in the series, deals with another non practicing Jewish family It is heartbreaking when I realize how many give up on their beliefs and traditions for the sake of fitting in Sebastian must undergo a leg amputation because of a rusty nail He is insecure and does not like to cause problems and this results in gangrene setting into a wound Later he losesof his leg What an amazing story Christoph has again shown his diligence in research The historical facts are great This story, second in the series, deals with another non practicing Jewish family It is heartbreaking when I realize how many give up on their beliefs and traditions for the sake of fitting in Sebastian must undergo a leg amputation because of a rusty nail He is insecure and does not like to cause problems and this results in gangrene setting into a wound Later he losesof his leg due to his refusal to be a burden and neglects to mention he is having problems When war breaks out, his father is called to join the army and Sebastian must take over the family business The entire family has issues of their own and their shortcomings create a world of insecurity Slowly Sebastian grows up and falls for Eva, who has begun working for them Her dismissal of his advances adds to Sebastian s insecurities Needing help in the store, a new pair of refugees come and live with the family When Love does come for him, Margit has to show him she loves him Her mother has mental issues The mother s paranoia and deep seated prejudices come into play and a pregnant Margit leaves her daughter behind to go back and find her father Margit gets left by her mother in the care of a Jewish family group Sebastian and his family sell their store and he finds happiness as a teacher Both Margit and Sebastian learn to depend on themselves Remarkable War and shortages combine to give this story its passion and its strength Great book Sebastian by Christoph Fischer is a brilliant testament to the author s talent Although part two of a historical trilogy, this novel stands out as a standalone and is so easy to read due to the author s magical way with words Sebastian is the central character around whom the story of life in Vienna flows from pre Great War to the end of the hostilities Sebastian is a normal teenage lad, but with a paranoid fear of hospitals and doctors It is this fear that forces said doctors to amputate hi Sebastian by Christoph Fischer is a brilliant testament to the author s talent Although part two of a historical trilogy, this novel stands out as a standalone and is so easy to read due to the author s magical way with words Sebastian is the central character around whom the story of life in Vienna flows from pre Great War to the end of the hostilities Sebastian is a normal teenage lad, but with a paranoid fear of hospitals and doctors It is this fear that forces said doctors to amputate his leg for an infection that could so easily have been avoided had he admitted to it in the first place Now Sebastian has to overcome almost insurmountable problems that most teenagers would never have to endure Then war breaks out as Austria flexes her mighty muscles This is where the book excels as a history lesson seen through the eyes of various family members, Sebastian, his girlfriends and their family members All these people are so richly involved in Sebastian s life and through them we watch him grow into manhood as the terrible consequences of the war quickly unravels society into a rabble of starving refugees This reader especially loved the plight of one girlfriend who discovers some horrifying facts about her dear father and how the war changed him This enthralling segment explores the Russian side of the war and what the revolution had in store for mankind.This FIVE STAR historical drama is a must read for all lovers of this genre and is so highly recommended I implore you to download it now clearly, christoph fischer is a great storyteller as in the weissensteiners , he has taken the reader through a family s experience of war, this time WWI without being political, and without lengthy discussions of battlelines, the author has a gift for bringing the reader closer to a time now only accessible in books and no longer as memories told by grandparents however it s the author s gift of great storytelling that the reader s takeaway is a feeling that this is a story being passed dow clearly, christoph fischer is a great storyteller as in the weissensteiners , he has taken the reader through a family s experience of war, this time WWI without being political, and without lengthy discussions of battlelines, the author has a gift for bringing the reader closer to a time now only accessible in books and no longer as memories told by grandparents however it s the author s gift of great storytelling that the reader s takeaway is a feeling that this is a story being passed down through generations it s the personal side of war that mr fisher is writing about by those that lived it the heartaches of separation, injuries, loss and most evident the downward spiralling of conditions, brought on by war he tells this story as if he knew the family that lived it, retelling it for his readers and, as if this story was being handed down, only in reflecting back and searching hard can one recognize moments, even during wartime, of hope, optimism and even happiness far from depressing, mr fischer makes sure that even the smallest things to be thankful for are noted i really enjoyed this book mr fisher keep writing Sebastian has a leg amputated right at the start of the book It s hard to imagine losing a limb and to do so at such a young age is harsh, but Sebastian has no time to lick his wounds the war drags his father away and leaves him with his fragile family and a store to run.Sebastian s family is an odd bunch of characters that you can t help liking The setting in Vienna at that time is very interesting and the characters that come into the family s life illustrate a multicultural society and the Sebastian has a leg amputated right at the start of the book It s hard to imagine losing a limb and to do so at such a young age is harsh, but Sebastian has no time to lick his wounds the war drags his father away and leaves him with his fragile family and a store to run.Sebastian s family is an odd bunch of characters that you can t help liking The setting in Vienna at that time is very interesting and the characters that come into the family s life illustrate a multicultural society and the growing tensions really well Fischer does a great job at exploring Sebastian s ideas of what his place in society should be Sebastian starts dating one of the assistants who comes with her own baggage, while the war is only happening in the distance.I liked the subplots in particular one was very entertaining in which several rich women spend their time psycho analysing and going to s ances, as was the fashion then I think this was the start of new ageism Another subplot takes the story to Galicia, which was one of the main areas of the fighting and shows a different side to war times, in contrast to wealthy Vienna.Sebastian is well written, unpredictable and an interesting historical novel, and is also a coming of age story about a young disabled man and his journey to self acceptance The book ends on a positive, inspirational note, and also with a wonderful twist Historical Novel meets Literary Realism.Vienna, the beginning of the 20th century, just before WWI What wouldn t I give to visit that place to see for myself the so called Golden Age of the center of European science and philosophy, arguably the most liberal place in Europe, where the seeds of the modern ideas of ethnic and religious equality first sprouted and were actually implemented.Of course, just because the government declares a degree of equality of the races and religions, it doesn Historical Novel meets Literary Realism.Vienna, the beginning of the 20th century, just before WWI What wouldn t I give to visit that place to see for myself the so called Golden Age of the center of European science and philosophy, arguably the most liberal place in Europe, where the seeds of the modern ideas of ethnic and religious equality first sprouted and were actually implemented.Of course, just because the government declares a degree of equality of the races and religions, it doesn t mean the populous will follow It usually takes a few generations for people to take to these new ideas How the prevalent nationality treats the minorities in their midst and how much the minorities are willing to assimilate is a litmus test on how tolerant the country really is.The emigration inside of, and to and from the Austro Hungarian Empire created a venerable melting pot of people of different beliefs and nationalities, most of whom recognized themselves not as members of a certain specific group but as citizens of the nation, especially in large cities as Vienna Of course, there were some notable exceptions The larger the degree of freedom the state provides for its citizens, thepowerful some nationalistic, religious, or ideological movements can become When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Habsburg throne, was assassinated by a Serbian student in Sarajevo, it didn t come to anyone as a great shock political assassination byradical groups were common in that era.However, I digress This book is a story that is centered around Sebastian Schreiber, an only son of non practicing, well assimilated Jewish family, that made a very decent life for themselves after immigrating to Vienna quite some while ago Schreibers are hard working and industrious, and at the time the novel starts, Sebastian s father, Franz, and mother, Vera, are running a grocery shop that is being frequented by people of varied nationalities and religions Sebastian s grandfather, Oscar, and grandmother Rebecca, are of ill health and are living with the family.At 16 years of age, Sebastian had an accident that leads to an amputation of his leg, leaving him incapable of the hard labor that is required to be a successful grocery shop keeper, as his father wanted him to be The accident was rather prosaic stepping on a rusty nail The consequences of it were as dramatic as one would imagine Perhaps, if the WWI would have never started, the lives of Sebastian s family would not have been changed so drastically, who knows However, the Austro Hungarian Empire did enter a war and the lives of Schreibers were never the same.Interestingly, Sebastian does not appear as an active character much throughout the novel Much of the time we follow the story through the eyes of Vera, his mother sometimes we switch to certain secondary characters In that, he reminds me of Pierre Bezukhov from War and Piece things happen around Sebastian, sometimes with him in the center, but not with him as the truly active player Not to say that he is not integral to the story However, as I read it, the novel isabout how the war affects society on an example of one group of people, in this case Schreiber family, and people connected to them.Through the novel, some characters disappear, like Franz, who was recruited to fight in the war, and new ones make an appearance, like Mathilde, a well off friend of Vera s, whose active mind makes for an interesting exploration of philosophical, social, and scientific ideas of the time Also, we have several maids who enter Schreiber household and who play important roles in the story as well The third maid, Margit, is the most important to how the narrative progresses and as such, she is the most interestingly written.The book edges on Literary Realism No character or idea is romanticized and characters are humanly fallible people who are trying to act in their self interest, be it foolishly sometimes While I was reading this book, I could not stop making parallels with War and Peace Sebastian is, in my opinion, a book about how a war changes people and the society There s a tiny bit of a conclusion of sorts at the end of the book, in a dialog between Sebastian and one of his friends no spoilers Many men who are returning from the war have changed and they come home to evenchanged women There comes a time when one needs to let go of the past and live in the present I think this pretty much says what the book is all about.A very good read from a fast emerging name in historical novels Recommended Sebastian is the story of a young man who has his leg amputated before World War I When his father is drafted to the war it falls on to him to run the family grocery store in Vienna, to grow into his responsibilities, bear loss and uncertainty and hopefully find loveSebastian Schreiber, his extended family, their friends and the store employees experience the golden days of pre war Vienna and the timed of the war and the end of the Monarchy while trying to make a living and to preserve what they hold dearFischer convincingly describes life in Vienna during the war, how it affected the people in an otherwise safe and prosperous location, the beginning of the end for the Monarchy, the arrival of modern thoughts and trends, the Viennese class system and the end of an eraAs in the first part of the trilogy, The Luck of The Weissensteiners we are confronted again with themes of identity, Nationality and borders The step back in time made from Bookand the change of location from Slovakia to Austria enables the reader to see the parallels and the differences deliberately out of the sequential order This helps to see one not as the consequence of the other, but to experience them as the momentary reality as it must have felt for the people at the time The first sentence of SEBASTIAN stirred my curiosity, and like Alice, I found myself in another time and place Transported to a hospital room in pre WWI Vienna, I felt the gravity of the situation Was this doctor really going to amputate part of Sebastian s leg Carried along from page to page, I worried alongside his mother, Vera, and wondered why his father, Franz, was not there As the novel unfolds and expands, we experience everyday life in this era Vienna, in the years just before the G The first sentence of SEBASTIAN stirred my curiosity, and like Alice, I found myself in another time and place Transported to a hospital room in pre WWI Vienna, I felt the gravity of the situation Was this doctor really going to amputate part of Sebastian s leg Carried along from page to page, I worried alongside his mother, Vera, and wondered why his father, Franz, was not there As the novel unfolds and expands, we experience everyday life in this era Vienna, in the years just before the Great War, was in a sort of golden age bubble a bubble that was about to burst The trajectory of Sebastian s life will change, as will the lives of the other characters we meet.The author, Christophe Fischer, is a very talented writer His first book, THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS, was a fabulous read, too I think the writing in SEBASTIAN is evengraceful and the history so smoothly integrated Oh, how deftly the author laces the metaphorical shoe that Sebastian will no longer wear Everyone is missing a shoe of one kind or another Sebastian s journey is everyone s journey Who will love this novel Anyone who values good storytelling, a well researched setting, and a cast of fascinating characters each with their own challenges The novel holds our attention, so rapt we are in how people adapt well, or not, to changing landscapes in their lives, their decisions often based on their perceptions, accurate or not SEBASTIAN is superb historical fiction Highly recommended I think I was misled by the average 4.71 rating It s almost like I read a completely different book from the one the 5 star raters read What s up with all those 5 star ratings I don t want to use the word collusion, but jeez I am so mystified.The sense you get is that either a English is not the author s first language or b the author is writing in 1940 for a readership of 8 year olds There is a Dick and Jane woodenness to the writing, supplemented by awkward phrasings and homonym I think I was misled by the average 4.71 rating It s almost like I read a completely different book from the one the 5 star raters read What s up with all those 5 star ratings I don t want to use the word collusion, but jeez I am so mystified.The sense you get is that either a English is not the author s first language or b the author is writing in 1940 for a readership of 8 year olds There is a Dick and Jane woodenness to the writing, supplemented by awkward phrasings and homonym misuse sight for site, etcEither way, not good Bad