This world is full of beautiful books and equally beautiful storytellers. And Sebastian Faulks comes up as one of those word weavers you can always count on. Last week his latest novel Snow Country was released by Hutchinson Heinemann and I was lucky enough to receive a gifted copy.
Set in Austria in a period that spans the earlier part of the 20th Century this story examines the lasting impact of World War One on individual relationships, on enduring mental health and the political landscape of Europe. Through the eyes of Lena, a young Austrian women who has grown up surrounded by poverty and Anton Heideck, a journalist who is searching for the woman he loved and lost at the outbreak of war we come to see a different side of story we might think we know well.
When both Lena and Anton come together in the mountains, at the acclaimed and mysterious Schloss Seeblick, they are both searching for answers to questions that have haunted them for years. Schloss Seeblick is a retreat, where progressive therapists of all kinds seek to help those troubled both by the world at large and their own inner thoughts.
Even though this story is concerned with some of the greatest, most terrible events of the past hundred years, this is in essence a quiet, rather introspective story. A story that looks inwards, to the core of the human and the centre of the soul. Faulks is one of the greats; one of those magicians who takes a story and makes it beautiful by it’s simplicity. Faulks’ use of language, the way he weaves small details brings each character, each twist and turn to life.
The feeling of mistakes made and mistakes destined to be repeated runs right through this novel. The quest for understanding of the human condition is reflected by both the characters and the era. Trapped between two wars, there is a feeling of bitter sweet inevitably, that both stirs and soothes the narrative.
Pop this one on your Autumn reading list and you won’t be disappointed .