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The heartbreaking new novel from the bestselling author of The Road Home: a story of betrayal, the struggle for happiness and the healing power of friendship

'It was a game of love and death. Neither of us will ever speak about it. It's locked inside us.'

Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem distant. He adores his mother but she treats him with bitter severity, disapproving especially of his intense friendship with Anton, the Jewish boy at school. A gifted pianist, Anton is tortured by stage fright; only in secret games with Gustav does his imagination thrive. But Gustav is taught that he must develop a hard shell, ‘like a coconut’, to protect the softness inside – just like the hard shell perfected by his country, to protect its neutrality.

But despite this hard shell, nothing in Gustav’s life can be called neutral. Older, and increasingly curious about his absent father, Gustav discovers the traces of an erotic love affair – traces which still glow white-hot even now.

Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender – and spanning the twentieth century – Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel explores the big themes of betrayal and the struggle for happiness, and above all, the passionate love of a childhood friendship as it is tested over a lifetime.

Reviews

This is a perfect novel about life's imperfection... Tremain is writing at the height of her inimitable powers... Remarkable and moving novel.

Kate Kellaway, Observer

The Gustav Sonata is a magnificent novel, heartbreaking, unsentimental and beautifully written, and it reinforces my opinion that there are few writers out there with the dexterity or emotional intelligence to rival that of the great Rose Tremain.

John Boyne, The Irish Times

Beautifully tender and brilliantly written novel... A tale of the most powerful part of any friendship: love. *****

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781784700201

    January 30, 2017

    Vintage

    320 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9781784740030

    June 15, 2016

    Chatto & Windus

    256 pages

    RRP $37.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Trade Paperback

    9781784740047

    June 13, 2016

    Chatto & Windus

    256 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781473520349

    May 19, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    320 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • iBooks
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Rose Tremain

Restoration (Vintage Past)
The American Lover
Merivel
Evangelista's Fan (Storycuts)
How It Stacks Up (Storycuts)
The Darkness of Wallis Simpson (Storycuts)
Peerless (Storycuts)
Trespass
Restoration
The Road Home
The Darkness Of Wallis Simpson
The Swimming Pool Season
The Garden Of The Villa Mollini
The Colour
Sacred Country
Music & Silence
Evangelista's Fan
Sadler's Birthday
The Colonel's Daughter
Letter To Sister Benedicta
The Cupboard
The Way I Found Her

Recommendations

Into the Water
Best Laid Plans
Night School
The Traitorâ??s Girl
After You
Congo Dawn
Anything Is Possible
Dunstan
Outlander
Men Without Women
The Good Mother
The French Perfumer
The Mistress
The Course Of Love
Private Delhi
Nineteen Eighty-Four: Popular Penguins
Be My Baby
The Night Circus
Exit West
The Sense of an Ending