Sebastian is the second of Christoph Fischer’s Three Nations Trilogy. The books are stand alone though they have a common theme. In this book Europe is in the throes of WWI and the setting is primarily Vienna, Austria. The book begins when the main character, Sebastian, is still a youth in school. He is the son of a non-orthodox Jewish grocer. His father’s parents live with them and neither is in good health. The grocery store is the only support for the family. The book takes us well into Sebastian’s adulthood.
I really enjoy reading this author’s books. The family dynamics change as the war begins and continues for several years. The lives that the Austrians led during war time is excellently portrayed. The events and politics of WWI are well researched and actual events mentioned in the book are accurate. These events were written into the story with realistic impacts on the characters of the story. Characters are well developed and realistically portrayed. The fallibility of humanity is perfectly portrayed with fear, suspicion, and misunderstandings as the sources for poor decisions made by the characters. These decisions have long lasting and sometimes permanent effects on the characters. The whole gamut of human emotions are portrayed. I felt empathy for the poor people whose lives were disrupted by war. I was sucked into the life story of these people and could feel what they felt. The plot is well developed and has a good pace. We follow family members through the trials of love and war and what they do to cope with the results.
For history and historical fiction fans this is a great book. The book is primarily written for adult readers but I would let a 14-15 year old read it as well.