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1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small tow 1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick. 1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time. _____________________ Sweeping across Europe as it recovers from one war and hides its face from the coming of another, SNOW COUNTRY is a landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope. In elegant, shimmering prose, Sebastian Faulks has produced a work of timeless resonance.


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1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small tow 1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick. 1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time. _____________________ Sweeping across Europe as it recovers from one war and hides its face from the coming of another, SNOW COUNTRY is a landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope. In elegant, shimmering prose, Sebastian Faulks has produced a work of timeless resonance.

30 review for Snow Country

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Sebastian Faulks latest historical novel spans the years from 1903 to 1933, encompassing the political turbulence of the time, the war torn years of WW1 and the pre-war rise of Nazism and the right wing in Austria and Vienna. It examines this period of history, structured into 5 parts, through 3 people, through the lives of the Styrian journalist and author, Anton Heideck, who with his best friend, Friedrich, are students in Vienna, he has no intention of returning home to help run the family bl Sebastian Faulks latest historical novel spans the years from 1903 to 1933, encompassing the political turbulence of the time, the war torn years of WW1 and the pre-war rise of Nazism and the right wing in Austria and Vienna. It examines this period of history, structured into 5 parts, through 3 people, through the lives of the Styrian journalist and author, Anton Heideck, who with his best friend, Friedrich, are students in Vienna, he has no intention of returning home to help run the family blood sausage company. As he struggles to establish himself in his chosen career, he takes on private tutoring which is how he meets the French Delphine Fourmentier, falling for her as the two embark on a passionate love affair that have them setting up home in the Vienna Woods. In 1914 he is reporting on the trial of Henriette Caillaux in Paris, hoping that war does not begin.. However, he is doomed to be disappointed, and upon his return home finds Delphine has gone. His harrowing experience of fighting in the war has him seriously injured. The horrors of what he sees, the huge losses that include friends, leaves him unsurprisingly with PTSD, finding it hard to come to terms with the loss of Delphine, exacerbated by not knowing whether she is alive or dead. Rudolf Plischke is a idealist young lawyer committed to the Rebirth party with its spiritual aspects. The impoverished Carinthian Lena meets Rudolf when she is 15 years old, illiterate, with a mother, Carina, who likes to drink, who has given away all the children she gave birth to, keeping only Lena. At Rudolf's urging, Lena moves to Vienna, only to find it an unforgiving place. She takes a menial post at the Schloss Seeblick, a place Anton has been sent to write an article evaluating the state of psychiatry and whether Austria has lost its pre-eminence to the newer psychotherapies utilised in the U.S. Both Anton and Lena are to find help with their mental health issues from the strong and independent therapist, Martha Midwinter, the daughter of one of the founders of the Schloss, with Anton aided by learning what happened to Delphine, and Lena finally overcoming her sense of shame over her time in Vienna. Austrian psychiatry had moved on from the early mistakes of the influential Freud, his unhealthy and unhelpful obsession with hysteria, and it is Martha who embodies the forefront of the profession with her more compassionate, less judgemental talking therapies, and the hope it offers for a wide variety of prevailing mental health issues. They provide people with the potential of moving on and being able to live and love in a Europe and Austria that seem determined to be at war, damaging, killing and destroying the lives of countless millions in the run up to WW2. This is a wonderfully insightful novel that covers key issues from this historical period, the impact of war, and the relationships between 3 people who live through it, and the evolution of psychiatry in its capacity to help, seen through Martha's work, even though she is not a qualified psychiatrist. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    I love historical fiction with characters who feel isolated, suffer from losses or misunderstanding and seek to understand themselves. No wonder the latest novel by Mr Faulks was a gem to read. Lena, Anton and Rudolph are not characters I felt attached to but drawn to them, yes, I was. Complicated past exprience, gains and losses make them feel real. The historical background, beginning before the WW1 and spanning over twenty years, allows for their development. I enjoyed this novel so much that I love historical fiction with characters who feel isolated, suffer from losses or misunderstanding and seek to understand themselves. No wonder the latest novel by Mr Faulks was a gem to read. Lena, Anton and Rudolph are not characters I felt attached to but drawn to them, yes, I was. Complicated past exprience, gains and losses make them feel real. The historical background, beginning before the WW1 and spanning over twenty years, allows for their development. I enjoyed this novel so much that I already purchased Human Traces. Mr Faulks is a new author for me and I am happy to have discovered him. *A big thank-you to Sebastian Faulks, Random House UK, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Sebastain Faulkes new novel follows the fate of three main characters in Austria from 1903 through the course of one war to the rumblings of a second. In 1933 they will all meet at the Schloss Seeblick, a sanatorium known for successfully treating patients with mental imbalances. Anton Heideck, a successful journalist has spent his life yearning for his first love Delphine Fourmentier, a woman who disappeared during the chaos that was the start of WW1. The trauma her suffered fighting in the war Sebastain Faulkes new novel follows the fate of three main characters in Austria from 1903 through the course of one war to the rumblings of a second. In 1933 they will all meet at the Schloss Seeblick, a sanatorium known for successfully treating patients with mental imbalances. Anton Heideck, a successful journalist has spent his life yearning for his first love Delphine Fourmentier, a woman who disappeared during the chaos that was the start of WW1. The trauma her suffered fighting in the war and seeing his best friend die has only sharpened his loss of Delphine and he seems unable to move on with his life. He has come to Schloss Seeblick to write an article for a magazine on the sanatorium and Martha Midwinter, the remarkable woman who runs it. Lena escaped her impoverished childhood by moving to Vienna where she discovered politics, philosophy and art under the guidance of young lawyer Rudolf Plischke. However, when life in Vienna sours for her there she takes up the offer of a job as a domestic servant at the Schloss Seeblick. Rudolf will later meet Lena again when he visits the Schloss to advise them on some legal matters. The novel focuses on the effects of war, the political tensions in Austria and the rise of facism as well as the growth of psychoanalysis away from Freud’s theories to more compassionate and gentle treatments. Lena and Anton are both recipients of Martha’s wise counselling, freeing them to move on with their lives. It’s a literary novel with beautiful prose, particularly the description of the Schloss and it’s lake. I found the sections in the Schloss and the discussion of current psychotherapy interesting and very much liked Martha and her ideas. Overall, the novel is fairly slow moving, being mostly driven by the three main characters and their personal insecurities, loves and losses. While I enjoyed reading it, it didn’t affect me in the same way that Birdsong did, but maybe that’s too much to ask for. With thanks to Random House UK and Netgalley for a copy to read

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ceecee

    This ambitious character driven novel spans 1906 to 1933 and is set principally in Austria with Vienna and the sanatorium at Schloss Seeblick being central settings. There are three main characters, first of all Anton Heideck who becomes a well known journalist, secondly, Lena who comes from humble origins and who goes to work at the Schloss as a maid. Here, her life and that of Anton intersect when he visits to write an article as there is much interest as this time in psychoanalysis and treatm This ambitious character driven novel spans 1906 to 1933 and is set principally in Austria with Vienna and the sanatorium at Schloss Seeblick being central settings. There are three main characters, first of all Anton Heideck who becomes a well known journalist, secondly, Lena who comes from humble origins and who goes to work at the Schloss as a maid. Here, her life and that of Anton intersect when he visits to write an article as there is much interest as this time in psychoanalysis and treatments and he decides to stay as a patient. Finally, there’s Rudolf Plischke, a lawyer and one time lover of Lena. The novel focuses on war, political changes and upheavals and on mental health. These three characters are interesting and form quite a contrast to each other, especially Lena with these well educated men. Her background is done well and it’s easy to picture her somewhat hand to mouth existence, surviving as best she can. She’s starved of affection which leads to her make mistakes and she views the prospect of a job at the Schloss as a fresh start. Antony’s journalistic career is interesting as we follow him from Vienna to Paris where he reports on the trial of Henriette Caillaux as war looms in the background. He reports on the building of the Panama Canal and these are colourful sections. Anton lives a lot in his head, he’s searching for a lost love in Delphine who he meets before the war and he’s damaged physically and mentally by the action he sees in the horror of World War One. Rudolf is a conflicted soul in many ways, he’s a political idealist at a time of huge change and through him we see that it’s not looking good for democracy in Austria by 1933. In all honesty, I feel as if I never get to know these characters, it’s very hard to connect to them and so you don’t really invest in their lives. The historical context is done well, we get a real sense of places and their atmosphere and the political changes are conveyed clearly. There are some good fairly brief scenes in the trenches and some quite graphic medical scenes which shows the frantic and difficult conditions of field hospitals. Through the Schloss the focus switches to treatments and views on mental health and this is interesting. A particularly strong element of the writing are the beautifully written descriptions of the area in and around the Schloss and these are so easy to visualise. However, despite these positives, I don’t think this is the authors best work by any means. Parts of it are a real slog, the pace is very slow and we get a lot of inconsequential detail and conversations which seem to add very little to the bigger picture. There’s little in terms of actual plot as it’s principally a character study and they don’t really come alive on the pages. The love element I find hard to buy into as it seems a literary contrivance, it feels forced and inauthentic. I think part of the problem is that the novel has a huge overarching aim which doesn’t come of and which leaves you unsatisfied. Overall, a mixed bag with some very good sections and some which I find dull. With thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the arc in return for an honest review

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: When Anton arrived the following day, he found that Delphine had set up a work table for him at the window overlooking the park. Having never lived with a woman before, still less with one who fascinated him so much, he found it difficult to settle down to work. Panama seemed more than remote, it seemed unreal. Emerald and her devotions, Maxwell and his brandy bottle, the giant wheel that turned the lock gates lying flat in its braced iron bed . . . Perhaps he had in truth caught yellow EXCERPT: When Anton arrived the following day, he found that Delphine had set up a work table for him at the window overlooking the park. Having never lived with a woman before, still less with one who fascinated him so much, he found it difficult to settle down to work. Panama seemed more than remote, it seemed unreal. Emerald and her devotions, Maxwell and his brandy bottle, the giant wheel that turned the lock gates lying flat in its braced iron bed . . . Perhaps he had in truth caught yellow fever and hallucinated all these things. What was real was the smell of coffee from the kitchen next door, the sound of Delphine singing to herself as she tidied, her footsteps on the wooden floor. He went in, stood behind her and put his arms around her waist, then pressed himself against her. ABOUT 'SNOW COUNTRY': 1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick. 1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time. MY THOUGHTS: Snow Country is a book of dreams, yearning and hope balanced against the horrors of WWI and the approach of WWII, and the struggles, both political and personal, of the period in between. The scope of this novel is huge, almost too huge, and I sometimes felt swamped by it, rather than encompassed by it as I have with other works I have read by this author. Lena is the common thread, the character who ties the other characters to the story. She is from a poor background, poor in both money and upbringing. She was also a poor student, leaving school with few academic skills, but natural abilities in other areas. All Lena really wants is to be loved, and a good part of this story is devoted to her journey towards finding that love. It is not a smooth, nor a predictable path. My favourite characters were those of Delphine, a Frenchwoman with whom a young and inexperienced Anton falls in love; and Martha, a therapist at the psychiatric institute. My least favourite character was Rudolf, whose only great passion is politics, and who seems incapable of recognizing human emotions in others, or of responding to them. This is a very slow moving read with a lot of dialogue. At times I found it hard to get to grips with the characters. Even after finishing it, I am still not sure if Lena's, Rudolf's and Anton's stories were merely a vehicle for the political history of Austria between the wars, or vice versa. Looking back on this reading experience it was like stumbling down a long, unfamiliar path in the dead of night, with no light, and no idea of where you are going. I did love the section devoted to the building of the Panama Canal. It was such a huge feat, built at the cost of so many lives, and I had never before considered the logistics of the task. Faulks made this very real for me. There is some beautiful writing in Snow Country, but this is nowhere near the author's best work, of which my personal favourite is Birdsong. ⭐⭐⭐.1 #SnowCountry #NetGalley I: #sebastianfaulks @randomhouseuk @hutchheinemann T: @ SebastianFaulks @RandomHouseUK @HutchHeinemann #comingofage #historicalfiction #mystery #romance #sliceoflife THE AUTHOR: Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independent”, and then went on to become deputy editor of “The Sunday Independent”. Sebastian Faulks was awarded the CBE in 2002. He and his family live in London. DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    I normally know how I feel about a novel quite early on and that view seldom changes as I progress through the story – but this one was different. Set in Austria in the first half of the 19th Century, we follow quite a cast of characters as they live through the build-up to The Great War and events thereafter (the war itself getting only a bit part role in this particular tale). The characters we’re introduced to include: Lena – born to an alcoholic mother who enjoys the experience of pregnancy b I normally know how I feel about a novel quite early on and that view seldom changes as I progress through the story – but this one was different. Set in Austria in the first half of the 19th Century, we follow quite a cast of characters as they live through the build-up to The Great War and events thereafter (the war itself getting only a bit part role in this particular tale). The characters we’re introduced to include: Lena – born to an alcoholic mother who enjoys the experience of pregnancy but rather avoids what comes after. Anton – a roaming journalist who witnesses the building of the Suez Canal before experiencing the horror of war. Rudolf – an earnest young lawyer whose political views prove to be at odds with his country’s ruling party. Martha – who runs a sanatorium which was co-founded by her father (this having being detailed in the author’s earlier book Human Traces) There are others too, perhaps too many for my taste, whose lives are to intersect. Love is found and love is lost – and sometimes love is found again – as historical events unfold around them. I felt the narrative was jerky and I struggled to get into its flow. I was interested in what was happening around the characters but not gripped by lives of people who kept flitting in and out of the frame. Amongst the cast, Lena appealed to me most: she’d led such a tough life, struggling to find anything at all to latch on to – could it be that there would at least be a happy ending for her? There was a point mid-book where I actually contemplated giving up on this one, it wasn’t my thing (in truth, historical fiction rarely is) but the quality of the writing alone kept me going. And I’m glad I stuck with it because as the tale entered it’s final third I suddenly found myself interested in the plight of a number of the players, the same people who had failed to arouse my interest to this point. Things started to come together, the links clicking into place. Now I was wondering – and more importantly caring - how it was all going to play out. I’m not going to give away anything that would spoil the book for future readers, but I will say that the ending is both suspenseful and satisfying. So how do I rate this book? Well, for me the first half merits three stars at best but the back end is more four star territory. So it’s flip a coin time, but I’m going to go with how I felt at the book’s conclusion: so it’s a slightly generous 4 stars from me. My thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Although Snow Country is the second book in a planned trilogy – the first of which was Human Traces published in 2005 – it can be read as a standalone. Opening with a dramatic prologue that some readers may find too graphic for their taste, the book explores some profound psychological and moral issues through events in the lives of its principal characters – Anton Heideck, Lena Fontana and, to a lesser extent, Rudolf Plischke. The first part of the book featuring Anton Heideck provides a vivid pi Although Snow Country is the second book in a planned trilogy – the first of which was Human Traces published in 2005 – it can be read as a standalone. Opening with a dramatic prologue that some readers may find too graphic for their taste, the book explores some profound psychological and moral issues through events in the lives of its principal characters – Anton Heideck, Lena Fontana and, to a lesser extent, Rudolf Plischke. The first part of the book featuring Anton Heideck provides a vivid picture of pre-First World War Vienna with its coffee houses, opera houses and concert halls. Unfortunately, most of the delights of the city are out of the reach of young Anton as he tries to scrape a living as a private tutor and journalist. Anton begins an intense relationship with the enigmatic Delphine, a young woman hired as a companion and French tutor to a Viennese family. As Anton becomes more successful, assignments to Paris and Moscow follow as well as a trip to report on the US-led construction of the Panama Canal. The latter has resonance for citizens of France because of the earlier involvement of Ferdinand de Lesseps, for a time a national hero because of his role in the construction of the Suez Canal. Unfortunately, his attempts to build a sea-level canal across the isthmus of Panama ended in failure with investors in the project losing everything. However, the outbreak of the First World War has momentous consequences for Anton, leaving emotional scars and unanswered questions. Lena’s story is one of a young girl growing up with few advantages in life, except perhaps that her alcoholic mother has chosen to raise her rather than give her up for adoption like so many of Lena’s half-sisters and brothers, the result of her mother’s brief couplings with various men. Even learning the identity of her father leaves Lena feeling abandoned and her instinctive self-expression and unconventional nature sets her apart from others. Gradually she transforms herself from illiterate school girl to independent young woman although not without moments of desperation and emotional disappointment along the way, including a relationship with idealistic young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke. Although the book seems to be at least two different stories with little connection between them, chance – or perhaps, fate – sees Anton, Lena and Rudolf arrive at the sanatorium, Schloss Seeblick. Lena is employed there as a servant, and Anton and Rudolf are there for professional reasons. Lena is the connection between the two men, although they are unaware of this. For Lena and Rudolf their meeting is an opportunity to resolve some unfinished business between them. Initially Anton’s interest in the sanatorium is purely professional, having been commissioned to write an article about it. He learns more about the sanatorium and the philosophy behind its treatments through his conversations with head therapist Martha Midwinter. These include discussions about the theories of Freud and others, a lot of which I’ll freely admit went over my head. Whilst studying the papers in the sanatorium’s archives for his article, Anton comes across a letter whose contents resonate with him: ‘The human mind has evolved in a way that makes it unable to deal with the pain of its own existence. No other creature is like this.’ Anton begins to wonder if Schloss Seeblick might offer him a way to resolve his own mental torment, caused by a combination of the unresolved issues in his personal life and his experiences as a soldier in the First World War. Through his subsequent sessions with Martha, we begin to learn more about Anton’s wartime experiences and understand their lasting impact on him, including what we would today recognize as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The observation that ‘life is full of missed connections, of bad timing’ is an apt description of the book and I enjoyed Snow Country, especially Lena’s story, although I was left with the feeling that I wasn’t quite clever enough to appreciate everything the author was seeking to explore in the book. However, I guess it’s no bad thing for a book to leave you with the sense there’s more to the world, and to other people, than you think you know.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bookread2day

    I love Sebastian Faulks novels he seems to writes excellent exciting literature fiction and nonfiction. Snow country is the second book in a planned trilogy the first being Human Traces 2005.what I like about the author Sebastian Faulks is that each novel can be read as a stand-alone. The author makes a point about one of the characters he says however without reference to the others, Lena is pronounced as Layna, rather than Leena. On my website I have an exciting extract from Snow Country chapt I love Sebastian Faulks novels he seems to writes excellent exciting literature fiction and nonfiction. Snow country is the second book in a planned trilogy the first being Human Traces 2005.what I like about the author Sebastian Faulks is that each novel can be read as a stand-alone. The author makes a point about one of the characters he says however without reference to the others, Lena is pronounced as Layna, rather than Leena. On my website I have an exciting extract from Snow Country chapter 2 page 20. Chapter 2 page 20 Anton Heideck had arrived in Vienna at the age of nineteen in the wet autumn of 1906. The fallen leaves stuck to the pavements of the narrow street in Spittelberg in which, after a demoralising search, he’d found a room to rent. He was one of the few students not to press into the cafes after lectures in the hope of catching a glimpse of some literary hero; what he admired were the newspaper dispatches from Viennese correspondents in Paris and Moscow. This could be a life, he dared to think one day, when he was buying a late edition of Die Presse. Writing reports from a foreign country might be a way of engaging with the world not as the protagonist, but as the recorder of the other men’s actions. The Styrian town in which he had been brought up was known as a centre of Catholicism and the old ways; to Anton as a boy it had seemed simply disconnected from anything that was urgent, or desirable, or worth striving for. His brother Gerhard was seven years older and did everything that was asked of him by their father: he was the victor ludorum at the school athletics and took his first Communion with shining hair and a pious look; he was the subject of admiring reports from his teachers at the end of the year. His parents hardly seemed to notice Anton, who sometimes wondered if his arrival in the world had come as a surprise to them. Gerhard meanwhile treated him with maddening tolerance, even when Anton brought his best friend Friedrich home from school and used his elder brother’s bedroom for a wrestling match.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Spira

    I didn't enjoy this book, although I remember liking Human Traces, Faulks' previous book to which this is a sort of sequel, dealing with similar themes. I found the characters uninspiring - indeed, I found Rudolf and Anton, the two main male characters difficult to distinguish between and had to keep checking back to find out which one I was reading about. The writing was sometimes quite lyrical but then became didactic in dealing with the psychiatric background. The plot seemed fragmented and I I didn't enjoy this book, although I remember liking Human Traces, Faulks' previous book to which this is a sort of sequel, dealing with similar themes. I found the characters uninspiring - indeed, I found Rudolf and Anton, the two main male characters difficult to distinguish between and had to keep checking back to find out which one I was reading about. The writing was sometimes quite lyrical but then became didactic in dealing with the psychiatric background. The plot seemed fragmented and I found the ending unsatisfactorily tidy - I had the sense that Faulks had written more than one ending and couldn't choose between them. I think it's a huge challenge for authors to adequately convey the mental health issues of their characters and in this case I don't think it's been managed well.

  10. 4 out of 5

    AtomicBooks

    I will start by confessing I’m a big fan of Sebastian Faulks writing, and this is another great read. He is most definitely a master craftsman and this is another brilliant work of art. What I love about this book is that the writing just flows beautifully and it reads so easily but when you sit back and reflect on what you have read there is nothing easy about this book. The characters of Lena, and Anton are just so well written, you can’t help but become emotionally attached to them, although a I will start by confessing I’m a big fan of Sebastian Faulks writing, and this is another great read. He is most definitely a master craftsman and this is another brilliant work of art. What I love about this book is that the writing just flows beautifully and it reads so easily but when you sit back and reflect on what you have read there is nothing easy about this book. The characters of Lena, and Anton are just so well written, you can’t help but become emotionally attached to them, although all the characters in the story play their part brilliantly, and stay with you throughout the story. This book beautifully explores many complex issues and emotions in a very real way, without sensationalism or being overly sentimental. When I’d finished this book though, and reflected on the book as a whole, I actually felt quite emotional, about the time I’d spent with the characters and the events that they had been through, and also quite worried for their future, as I have the benefit of foresight and know what period in our history is coming next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    This book starts with a surgery, a very graphic surgery. There’s one thing I’m not good at (next to many other things, by the way) and that’s watching a surgery on television. I immediately get nauseated. Reading about it obviously leads to the same reaction. After the first page, I threw my e-reader away, shivering, nauseated. I tried again with the same result. I skimmed a few pages, skipped some more and the surgery was still going on. The next day I tried again. Started reading from the seco This book starts with a surgery, a very graphic surgery. There’s one thing I’m not good at (next to many other things, by the way) and that’s watching a surgery on television. I immediately get nauseated. Reading about it obviously leads to the same reaction. After the first page, I threw my e-reader away, shivering, nauseated. I tried again with the same result. I skimmed a few pages, skipped some more and the surgery was still going on. The next day I tried again. Started reading from the second chapter. But after every sentence I read, I remembered the words scalpel and flesh and blade and cutting and more. And I quit reading again. I decided to DNF. My fasted DNF ever. Such a graphic start of a book and me are just not a good combination. I’m sorry author and publisher... I received an ARC from Random House UK and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    I’ve never been a Sebastian Faulks fan, and yet hope springs eternal, so I embarked open-mindedly on this, his latest novel, only to be disappointed yet again. I find his writing just so mundane, so banal, and his characterisation weak. I didn’t relate to any of the characters in this novel, didn’t care about their plight, and found the dialogue – and the novel is dialogue heavy – frankly embarrassing at times, it’s so stilted. Potentially the subject matter is interesting – 3 people find their I’ve never been a Sebastian Faulks fan, and yet hope springs eternal, so I embarked open-mindedly on this, his latest novel, only to be disappointed yet again. I find his writing just so mundane, so banal, and his characterisation weak. I didn’t relate to any of the characters in this novel, didn’t care about their plight, and found the dialogue – and the novel is dialogue heavy – frankly embarrassing at times, it’s so stilted. Potentially the subject matter is interesting – 3 people find their lives intertwined in the first decades of the 20th century against a backdrop of increasingly tense political tension and societal change. Much of the action takes place in a psychiatric sanatorium where we suffer a lot of cod psychology and psychiatric exposition. In 1914 we meet Anton Heideck, a journalist in Vienna where he meets the French Delphine and falls in love, only to be separated when WWI breaks out. In part two we meet Lena, who manages to leave her poverty-stricken life behind when she manages also to get to Vienna, where she meets a young troubled lawyer Rudolf. Part three takes us back to Anton and the Eastern Front. The centre of the book – I hesitate to say its heart –where our characters all interact is always, however, the asylum Schloss Seeblick, an institution Faulks first visited in Human Traces. It’s a pleasant enough read, I guess, and certainly many reviewers have found it so, but it left me cold and totally unengaged. It’s certainly not as profound and meaningful as it thinks it is. Just not one for me, unfortunately.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kaye Fraser

    Set in Austria in the years 1914 to 1933, this is not just a war novel but a deeply human story too, of relationships, politics, trauma, hatred and redemption. It follows Faulks’s previous book, Human Traces and is the second of a planned trilogy. The main protagonist is a young girl, daughter of an uncaring alcoholic. She grows up in abject poverty but possesses a drive and determination to find a better life, and most importantly to find love, which she has never had during her childhood. The Set in Austria in the years 1914 to 1933, this is not just a war novel but a deeply human story too, of relationships, politics, trauma, hatred and redemption. It follows Faulks’s previous book, Human Traces and is the second of a planned trilogy. The main protagonist is a young girl, daughter of an uncaring alcoholic. She grows up in abject poverty but possesses a drive and determination to find a better life, and most importantly to find love, which she has never had during her childhood. The story takes the reader on a journey through relationships, prejudice, turmoil in society, the rumblings of impending war and the goodness of the people she comes into contact with, as well as those with less benign traits. If all this sounds a bit vague, it’s because this reviewer doesn’t do spoilers and wants you to read this beautifully crafted, superbly characterised and hugely engrossing book for yourself. There is a fair bit of gore here, which may not be to everyone’s taste, but the book is magnificent and nothing less than readers expect from this truly brilliant writer.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks is a deeply introspective novel set largely in Austria during the social and political upheaval of the first decades of the 20th century. It focuses on the lives and loves of Anton and Lena, both complex and sensitive characters with elaborately imagined thoughts, emotions, desires and mental health issues which are compassionately explored. The book opens with a field operation to save the life of a solider injured in World War I – Anton. The physical and psycho Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks is a deeply introspective novel set largely in Austria during the social and political upheaval of the first decades of the 20th century. It focuses on the lives and loves of Anton and Lena, both complex and sensitive characters with elaborately imagined thoughts, emotions, desires and mental health issues which are compassionately explored. The book opens with a field operation to save the life of a solider injured in World War I – Anton. The physical and psychological scars he has developed are crucial to the unfolding of the story. The narrative then starts in the months leading up to the war with Anton as a journalist visiting and writing about the Panama Canal and the murder trial of Henriette Caulliux in Paris. He is obsessed with Delphine, a Frenchwoman who he believes to be the love of his life; but then their countries declare war on each other. Lena’s story begins in 1927 with flashbacks to her youth as the daughter of an alcoholic, impoverished mother and an absent Italian father. She meets a cheerful young lawyer and goes to live with him in Vienna – but the situation for her unfolds in unexpected ways. The heart of the novel is in 1933 in Schloss Seeblick, a turn-of-the-century sanitorium near a snow-capped mountains and an ice-covered lake. Anton is sent to the Schloss to write an feature piece delving into Austrian psychiatry; Lena works there as a maid. The natural surroundings are vividly described and closely linked to the characters’ emotions; I was reminded of the Romantic Wordsworth’s Prelude and his vision of the impact nature has on the psyche. Snow Country builds on the first book in a planned trilogy, Human Traces (2005); I haven’t read this yet and feel that the story would have been even more meaningful for me had I known more about the characters Thomas, Jacques and Sonia, and the evolution of modern psychiatry as portrayed in Human Traces. Nevertheless, the book stands on its own. I absolutely loved the strong, independent therapist Martha, daughter of Thomas, who gets Anton (and Lena) to open up. At times the plot seems meandering but the detailed images and precisely imagined thoughts lead to a richly textured novel – and Faulks’s clever crafting brings various strands together in the end. It is a unique and poignant read which helps the reader to better understand what it means to be human.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Keith Currie

    Coincidences I had read two of Sebastian Faulks’ novels before this, Birdsong and Enderby, one of which I liked and one of which I did not. Snow Country, set mainly in Austria before, (briefly) during and after the First World War, falls into the former category. I liked it. Anton, escaping from the family pork sausage business, aspires to be a journalist of renown. His lover is an older woman, Delphine, French, mysterious. His ambitions take him to Panama to report on the building of the canal, a Coincidences I had read two of Sebastian Faulks’ novels before this, Birdsong and Enderby, one of which I liked and one of which I did not. Snow Country, set mainly in Austria before, (briefly) during and after the First World War, falls into the former category. I liked it. Anton, escaping from the family pork sausage business, aspires to be a journalist of renown. His lover is an older woman, Delphine, French, mysterious. His ambitions take him to Panama to report on the building of the canal, and immediately before the outbreak of war, to Paris, to report on a celebrity murder case. On his return to Austria, Delphine has disappeared without trace. Lena, uneducated, poor, fatherless, her mother an alcoholic who has given away all her other children, starts life with every disadvantage. But she has aspirations, and improves her lot through determination and life experience. At a low point in her life in Vienna, she entertains men, with one of whom in a single encounter she feels an emotional link, immediately lost as this injured soul disappears from her life. After the war, in a progressive and radical asylum in the Austrian mountains, Lena and Anton will meet again. Is the link Lena imagined to be reciprocated? Can Anton step beyond the loss of Delphine (and others from his life)? Will he discover what happened to Delphine? Can another fill her place? Faulks’ novel is impressive in many ways, the emotional pull, the Hardyesque use of coincidence, both positive and negative, the personal drama set in a much wider stage, Austria before, during and after the war, the folly and callowness of youth, the early days of psychological treatment, the challenges, losses and occasional triumphs of the individual. The author balances the individual and the political in an ambitious narrative, achieving a satisfying conclusion.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kath

    This is billed as the second book in a trilogy but that you don't need to have read the first. I haven't read the first but, from what I hear from those who have, that statement is correct. It's not a trilogy in the traditional sense, rather a triptych of books which are connected in some way. That said, I will go back and read the previous book, tbr permitting! Oh as well as the next when it arrives. We start back in 1914 and follow a young Anton Heideck as he arrives in Vienna to start his job This is billed as the second book in a trilogy but that you don't need to have read the first. I haven't read the first but, from what I hear from those who have, that statement is correct. It's not a trilogy in the traditional sense, rather a triptych of books which are connected in some way. That said, I will go back and read the previous book, tbr permitting! Oh as well as the next when it arrives. We start back in 1914 and follow a young Anton Heideck as he arrives in Vienna to start his job as a journalist. He complements his work by doing some private tutoring and it is through one of his pupils that he meets Delphine who knocks him off his feet. Meanwhile, we also meet Lena who has not had a good start in live with an absent father and a drunk mother. She finds a sort of benefactor in a young lawyer Rudolf Plischke who tries to help her but it is on her own merit that she finally gets herself a job. In 1933 our three characters collide at Schloss Seeblick, a groundbreaking sanitarium. Presided over by the wonderful Martha Midwinter, daughter of one of the founders. In this book, which is so very character driven, the author manages to weave his fiction around the facts of what is happening in the world in the times in which the book is set. More obviously the war and the state of politics, but also the leaps they are making in the world of psychiatry and mental health. It follows the relationships and interactions between the three characters and how they manage to get on in the world despite all it throws at them. They are all very different but, at the same time, all the same. It's emotional in all the right places and also gave me food for thought as well as the chance to learn more about certain things I discovered along the way. There are few books that I earmark for a re-read but this, along with Birdsong, will be one of them. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Young

    A haunting story of two troubled souls struggling to find meaning in early 20 century Austria. Anton, discovering the answer to everything missing in his life through a encompassing passion for Delphine. That she was much older, wiser and had the confidence emitted from someone who has the experience of a lived life in its many guises only strengthened his insatiable passion. Lena, born into poverty, destitute in both material and emotional well-being realises that promises are made never to be A haunting story of two troubled souls struggling to find meaning in early 20 century Austria. Anton, discovering the answer to everything missing in his life through a encompassing passion for Delphine. That she was much older, wiser and had the confidence emitted from someone who has the experience of a lived life in its many guises only strengthened his insatiable passion. Lena, born into poverty, destitute in both material and emotional well-being realises that promises are made never to be kept, a loving family the stuff of dreams, and only by grabbing every unthought through opportunity will she escape abject poverty in the life shared with her single drunken , promiscuous, uneducated mother. Our protagonists , two tortured individuals blind to the realisation that they hold the answer to the others inability to be happy, zig zagging through a life of uncertainty lost to each other in a scenario reminiscent of Doctor Zhivago,. A tragedy of unforeseen events lead to a fitting conclusion for this complex storyline. Many thanks to Author, Publisher and NetGalley for this worthy ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    ⭐️ 2.5 ⭐️ Snow Country is a well-written, well-researched character-driven novel. Although this is a sequel, it can be easily read as a standalone. Unfortunately I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and found some of them very similar and one dimensional, I had to keep recapping just to make sure who they were. The pace is slow and often monotonous, with a lot of unnecessary dialogue. Not one of my favourite reads by Sebastian Faulks. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e ⭐️ 2.5 ⭐️ Snow Country is a well-written, well-researched character-driven novel. Although this is a sequel, it can be easily read as a standalone. Unfortunately I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and found some of them very similar and one dimensional, I had to keep recapping just to make sure who they were. The pace is slow and often monotonous, with a lot of unnecessary dialogue. Not one of my favourite reads by Sebastian Faulks. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jill Westerman

    This novel is set in Austria around the beginning of the 20th Century. The action centres on 3 characters: Lena, a young woman with minimal education, brought up by an alcoholic mother and learning to be self-sufficient at an early age she moves between suspicion and romance. Rudolf is an idealistic young student, the member of a radical Christian political group, and Anton, who loves Delphine, an older woman he meets in Vienna, until his country declares war on hers and he goes off to fight, re This novel is set in Austria around the beginning of the 20th Century. The action centres on 3 characters: Lena, a young woman with minimal education, brought up by an alcoholic mother and learning to be self-sufficient at an early age she moves between suspicion and romance. Rudolf is an idealistic young student, the member of a radical Christian political group, and Anton, who loves Delphine, an older woman he meets in Vienna, until his country declares war on hers and he goes off to fight, returning to Vienna with a damaged lung and damaged psyche. The action moves between Vienna and a psychiatric hospital, where the new theories of Freud are a strong influence on treatment. Lena encounters both Rudolf and Anton in Vienna, moves to work in the hospital where (somewhat improbably) they both end up visiting for different reasons. The novel has a broad scope, covering love and loss, the politics of Austria at the beginning of the century and the aftermath of the First World War as the country moves to the right and the growing influence of Hitler. It is a gripping read, and I enjoyed it. Many thanks to Negalley and the publisher for a review copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)

    Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks will be published September 2nd with Hutchinson Heinemann (Cornerstone/Penguin UK) and is a return to Schloss Seeblick, the setting of Sebastian Faulks’ 2011 novel, Human Traces. But ‘although we glimpse one or two characters from the past, this is a new world’ says Sebastian Faulks of Snow Country. When people ask me what my favourite book of all time is I always include Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (1993). The vivid descriptions of trench warfare have remained Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks will be published September 2nd with Hutchinson Heinemann (Cornerstone/Penguin UK) and is a return to Schloss Seeblick, the setting of Sebastian Faulks’ 2011 novel, Human Traces. But ‘although we glimpse one or two characters from the past, this is a new world’ says Sebastian Faulks of Snow Country. When people ask me what my favourite book of all time is I always include Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (1993). The vivid descriptions of trench warfare have remained with me and it is a book that really had a huge impact. As a result I am always quite reticent when picking up another book by Sebastian Faulks. Human Traces is >i>‘set during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries….brilliantly captures the drama behind the intellectual and social controversies spurred by Darwin’s theory of evolution and breakthroughs in the study of mental illness.’ Snow Country is more about the humanity of people as they struggle to survive in a world that is tumbling down around them. It is a tale of epic proportions taking the reader on a scintillating journey from the early 1900s to the immediate years prior to the Second World War. Snow Country is set in Austria where we are introduced to Anton Heideck, a hopeful journalist turning his back on his family’s sausage business, Rudolf Plischke, an idealist (and lawyer) with quite radical views, and Lena, a young girl born on the wrong side of the tracks with ambition and survival instincts. Sebastian Faulks explores significant historical events like the building of the Panama Canal and the famous trial of Parisian socialite Henriette Caillaux, as well as the political and societal changes of the time. Anton Heideck is frustrated with his life, very unsure of his future, until he meets with Delphine Fourmentier, a tutor who is temporarily based in Vienna. Delphine is everything and more than Anton could ever have hoped for and, over the weeks, a relationship develops, leading the pair to set up home in quite an unorthodox fashion for the time. Delphine has her secrets but Anton is blinded by passion and love never looking for any more information than she offers. While he is in Paris reporting on the Caillaux case, the declaration of war they had all feared is announced. Anton’s return to Vienna is delayed but when he finally makes it back, Delphine has disappeared. Anton gets caught up in the horrors of the war with Sebastian Faulks yet again creating dramatic and very rich descriptions of the trenches, albeit only for a section of the novel. The years of fighting and the injuries suffered left a catastrophic mark, both physically and emotionally on Anton and, with no Delphine waiting for him, he goes through a very disturbed period in his life. Following the war, he embarks on a magazine assignment that takes him to Schloss Seeblick, a sanatorium, where he hopes to write an article studying the possible decline of Austria’s world-leading expertise on matters of the mind and psychiatry. While there he crosses paths with people from many different walks of life and he discovers peace there away from the maddening crowds. Anton Heideck has obviously suffered untreated PTSD and this place becomes a temporary refuge for him. “He fears being just a consciousness, a whirlpool of impersonal energy. A toy of history with no will of his own” – Martha Midwinter, Schloss Seeblick, conversing with her sister, Charlotte, about Anton Heideck Rudolf Plischke is a young man with radical beliefs and strong views. Caught up in a spiralling political situation, Rudolf hopes for a better future for Austria. He crosses paths with Lena, a young girl struggling to survive. Lena is the daughter of Carina, an alcoholic and a prostitute who has given birth to numerous children. She handed all her babies over to institutional care except for Lena. For whatever her reasons, she decided to be a more proactive mother and Lena was given a chance at an education. But Lena was not interested in mathematics or reading. She dreamed of a different life and hoped to someday be with her father, a sailor from Trieste who she has a very brief encounter with. Lena is taken under Rudolf’s wing in Vienna but over time the Viennese life does not suit Lena and she takes the opportunity to work at Schloss Seeblick. Rudolf dips in and out of her life over the following years, leaving her confused and often angered. Snow Country captures the very essence of Anton, Rudolf and Lena as their lives become intertwined over the years. Sebastian Faulks writes with an extremely perceptive hand bringing his cast of characters very much to life for the reader. The novel does contain a element of psychoanalysis/psychotherapy running through its core but it’s not over-bearing, rather enough to be insightful and quite fascinating. There were occasional sections of dialogue throughout the novel that I did find a little jarring, as they lacked a certain flow and didn’t sit with me too well but, in the overall reading experience, I was able to overlook them. With a heart-breaking and compelling storyline Snow Country encapsulates a period of history that saw forceful changes in history. Everyone at the time suffered in some manner either through war or illness, with the Spanish Flu adding to the death toll. The spirituality and minds of many were tested to the extreme and not everyone could cope, escaping into their heads looking for a better alternative reality. “Why should my life be different or special? None of us is spared by history. That’s what history is. A leveller. A universal joke whose shape is visible only in retrospect. God laughs when he hears our plans, but history laughs louder” Snow Country is a haunting novel, a very authentic and profound tale. It is a history lesson, a love story, a very affecting reading experience. A richly visual and perceptive story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sansom

    I ought to start my review by saying that Snow Country is a lofty and ambitious novel that’s been written for cleverer minds than mine. For that reason, I don’t think my review will do justice to it. It is also the second instalment in planned trilogy, which I hadn’t realised until after I’d finished reading this book. Many reviewers have said Snow Country works well as a standalone, but I do wonder if I’d read Human Traces first, I might have engaged more deeply with this particular story. First I ought to start my review by saying that Snow Country is a lofty and ambitious novel that’s been written for cleverer minds than mine. For that reason, I don’t think my review will do justice to it. It is also the second instalment in planned trilogy, which I hadn’t realised until after I’d finished reading this book. Many reviewers have said Snow Country works well as a standalone, but I do wonder if I’d read Human Traces first, I might have engaged more deeply with this particular story. First things first - is it just me, or do the book’s title and cover design summon up the same impressions to you as they do to me? There’s something about them that remind me of the final dramatic scenes of The Sound of Music when the family escape the Nazis across the Alps following a nerve-wracking car chase. Well, the era certainly tallies up with the latter chapters of Snow Country, as does the predominantly Viennese setting, but that’s where the similarities end. So, having formed that incorrect supposition in my own head, it’s fair to say I went into the book with mismatched expectations. In keeping with its generational context, Snow Country is a quiet, well articulated story, unembellished and unadorned. There’s a gravitas in this simplicity, and the detached narrative begs the readers to try and get closer to its characters. Its tone and prose is very formal and proper, and there’s an undeniable richness to the diorama it creates, invoking the conflicting gentility and brutality of these pivotal decades. The depth and breadth of research undertaken by the author is quite honestly breathtaking. From the immediate, shell-shocked aftermath of the Great War, and the socio-political turmoil consuming Austria in the 1920s and ‘30s, to the country’s religious upheaval, the looming threat of Nazi invasion, and the relatively embryonic practice of psychotherapy, Snow Country is a work of bold intent. Snow Country is a character study in triplicate; its three main characters - Anton, Lena, and Martha - could not be any more different when you first encounter them, but as the story unfolds across three decades, their stories are woven together and a sense of intimacy emerges. Of the three, Lena was my favourite character with perhaps the most emotionally engaging and plot-formative story. Martha is a trained psychotherapist, who runs the Schloss Seeblick sanatorium which provides the setting for the three disparate paths to cross. But it’s Anton’s character who binds the three stories together; he carries the burden of the post-war theme, whilst also enlightening readers on the societal issues by way of his career as an investigative journalist. As a character-centric book its stories can only really come alive through their dynamics and relationships. And this is where I struggled ... ostensibly all-consuming romances came across as perfunctory and lacklustre, whilst seemingly informal conversations were stilted and felt unnatural. This was exacerbated by some very long, weighty dialogues - primarily between Martha and Anton - that were ponderous to the point of distraction. Their subject matter could have illuminated the story beautifully, but instead I found their pomposity off-putting. The compound effect was that I simply couldn’t engage with the characters as well as I’d like to have done. Contrastingly, I found the settings and visual imagery of Snow Country wonderfully vivid: Anton’s arrival in Vienna and Lena’s account of Schloss Seeblick were remarkable in their clarity and rendering. Likewise, as Anton bares witness to some of the era’s most significant events, the character’s eye for detail colours their historical context with his own personal feelings and experiences. If you like your historical fiction stylistically understated, with contextual veracity and uncompromising literary ‘weight’, Snow Country offers you a didactic and thought-provoking read. I can’t fault its ambition or integrity, but sadly this book just wasn’t for me … however, if you take a moment to read other reviews you’ll see I am in the minority.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Cornelius

    Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks Sebastian Faulks latest historical novel covers the years from 1903 to 1933. It incorporates much of the political turbulence of the time; the war torn years of WW1 and the pre-war rise of Nazism and the right wing in Austria and Vienna. It focuses on this period through he lives of three people: the journalist and author, Anton Heideck, Lena, with a drunken mother, who comes from humble origins and Rudolf Plischke, a lawyer and one time lover of Lena. Anton and hi Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks Sebastian Faulks latest historical novel covers the years from 1903 to 1933. It incorporates much of the political turbulence of the time; the war torn years of WW1 and the pre-war rise of Nazism and the right wing in Austria and Vienna. It focuses on this period through he lives of three people: the journalist and author, Anton Heideck, Lena, with a drunken mother, who comes from humble origins and Rudolf Plischke, a lawyer and one time lover of Lena. Anton and his best Friedrich, are students in Vienna and as Anton struggles to establish himself as a journalist he takes on private tutoring which is how he meets, and falls in love with, Delphine Fourmentier. They set up home in the Vienna Woods but in 1914 he is in Paris reporting on the trial of Henriette Caillaux in Paris and when he returns home finds Delphine gone. Rudolf Plischke is an idealistic young lawyer who meets impoverished Lena when she is only 15 years old. Urged by Rudolf, Lena moves to Vienna, only to find it an challenging place to live. She takes a menial role at the Schloss Seeblick, a psychiatric hospital,, where Anton has been sent to write an article evaluating the state of psychiatry in Austria. This is a perceptive novel that covers key issues from this historical period, the impact of war, and the relationships between 3 people who live through it. It also deals with the evolution of psychiatry. I found it a very interesting book and will be recommending it to others. Many thanks to the author, the publishers and Net Galley for the opportunity to read it in return for a copy in return for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anne O'Connell

    I’ve not read many of Sebastian Faulks’ books, despite having loved Birdsong and enjoyed an excellent audio performance of A Possible Life. Snow Country is the second in a planned trilogy but as the author says, each can be read on its own; I certainly didn’t feel as though I was missing out by not having read Human Traces (although I might now read it). It has a vivid start, giving an unflinching view of field surgery in a grotty tent. I quickly became interested in the characters’ lives, set ag I’ve not read many of Sebastian Faulks’ books, despite having loved Birdsong and enjoyed an excellent audio performance of A Possible Life. Snow Country is the second in a planned trilogy but as the author says, each can be read on its own; I certainly didn’t feel as though I was missing out by not having read Human Traces (although I might now read it). It has a vivid start, giving an unflinching view of field surgery in a grotty tent. I quickly became interested in the characters’ lives, set against a backdrop of impending war; the dramatic irony of the reader knowing what’s to come is heartbreaking. It was a wrench, then, to leave them behind and start afresh with Part 2. In Lena, however, Sebastian Faulks has created one of the most interesting characters I’ve come across. The humbleness and narrow horizons of her early life make her a sponge for new ideas and experiences. On one level Snow Country is a story about the lives and loves of a handful of characters. But it’s much more than that too, a grand sweep touching on society scandal, the grand project of the Panama Canal, psychoanalysis, loss and loneliness; Anton’s description of dealing with his wartime experiences is particularly poignant. It manages to be at once literary – there is some beautiful writing – and gripping: I read on eager to find out how Anton would deal with his past and what path Lena would take. I think I only get properly frustrated by the inaction or poor decision-making of really well-drawn characters and at times I felt like slapping Anton, so job done!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hudson

    I very much enjoyed Human Traces, the previous title in this trilogy, as well as other Sebastian Faulks titles I have read, so had high hopes for this one. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed. We meet our two principal characters on their separate paths in the early 20th century. Anton lives in Vienna, where he aspires to be a journalist of renown and where he meets and falls in love with an older French woman, Delphine. In love and now living together, Anton leaves to go on journalistic assignments I very much enjoyed Human Traces, the previous title in this trilogy, as well as other Sebastian Faulks titles I have read, so had high hopes for this one. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed. We meet our two principal characters on their separate paths in the early 20th century. Anton lives in Vienna, where he aspires to be a journalist of renown and where he meets and falls in love with an older French woman, Delphine. In love and now living together, Anton leaves to go on journalistic assignments in Panama and Paris, only to return to Austria to find Delphine gone without a trace... Meanwhile, Lena is poor, with little education and being raised by an alcoholic mother but with a talents that, with help from her friend Rudolf, lead to her moving to Vienna. Falling on harder times, she becomes a “line girl”, entertaining gentlemen in exchange for payment. One of these encounters is with a man who speaks of his lost love, Delphine, and her life changes from that moment. Years later, the two are reunited at the Austrian sanatorium Schloss Seeblick, where Lena now works and Anton is preparing to write an article. To say what follows would be to give spoilers, but I will say that it is a beautiful and fascinating character study. The whole tale is beautifully written and the descriptions of the time and place in which the story is set give a very vivid impression of the period. The characters are wonderful, and complex, and flawed, and fascinating to spend time with. I very much look forward to the next instalment, as well as anything else by this author! My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debra Davidson-Smith

    Snow country manages to powerfully combine a detailed and intimate focus on the lives and minds of its main characters, with a grand overview of a tumultuous and rapidly changing world across three decades. The novel interrogates how all our lives are shaped by forces outside our control but rather than evoking a feeling of hopelessness, Faulkes manages to convey the complete opposite – this is a book about resilience, love and desire, where human suffering is counter balanced by hope and the ch Snow country manages to powerfully combine a detailed and intimate focus on the lives and minds of its main characters, with a grand overview of a tumultuous and rapidly changing world across three decades. The novel interrogates how all our lives are shaped by forces outside our control but rather than evoking a feeling of hopelessness, Faulkes manages to convey the complete opposite – this is a book about resilience, love and desire, where human suffering is counter balanced by hope and the chance of redemption. Snow Country is the second book in a trilogy, but I haven’t read the first book in the series, and it worked really well for me as a stand-alone novel. The book tells the story of Lena, a girl born to an alcoholic mother in a small town in southern Austria in 1906, Anton, the restless son of a bourgeois family who sets out to make his fortune in pre-First World War Vienna, and the idealistic young lawyer Rudolf Plischke, who wants to change the world. Their lives move apart over the years but come together again in 1934 at the atmospheric snow-capped sanatorium Schloss Seeblick, where human suffering is laid painfully bare but there remains a chance to rebuild broken lives. Faulkes’ ability to stitch together grand themes and sweeping page-turning narrative together with the innermost feelings of believable characters is truly impressive. Even the minor players come to life as he takes us to the heart of what it means to be human. Sweeping across a fragile and frightening Europe precariously placed between two wars, Snow Country is the kind of book that sucks you into its world, with its elegant prose, superbly paced narrative and tantalising glimpses of a better world. With thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC in return for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Set in Austria, the events of Sebastian Faulks' latest novel, Snow Country, take place between 1906 and 1933 and it focuses on three main characters, whose lives intersect at various points over the decades, and culminate in Schloss Seeblick clinic in Austria. (Interestingly, Snow Country is the second of an intended "trilogy" of linked novels, with Schloss Seeblick clinic providing the setting for Human Traces which was published in 2005. Each title can be read completely independently, and non Set in Austria, the events of Sebastian Faulks' latest novel, Snow Country, take place between 1906 and 1933 and it focuses on three main characters, whose lives intersect at various points over the decades, and culminate in Schloss Seeblick clinic in Austria. (Interestingly, Snow Country is the second of an intended "trilogy" of linked novels, with Schloss Seeblick clinic providing the setting for Human Traces which was published in 2005. Each title can be read completely independently, and none are intended to be sequels, ) The three major protagonists are Lena, Rudolf and Anton. Lena is not academically gifted, but she is a strong, independent woman who has had to be self-reliant from an early age, due to a childhood lived in poverty with her alcoholic single mother. She eventually gains employment as a maid at Schloss Seeblick Sanatorium which treats people suffering from a range of mental ill health conditions. Rudolf is a few years older than Lena and is a somewhat idealistic student from a very wealthy background who later becomes a lawyer. Anton is the oldest of the three characters and is a journalist and writer who lost the love of his life, Delphine, when the outbreak of the First World War separated them. He arrives at Schloss Seeblick having been commissioned by a magazine to write an article about the clinic's work. The novel is very much character driven, with Faulks' three strong, interesting, yet diverse and contrasting figures at the heart of it., As the story unfolds, going back and forth between the decades, more and more of their respective stories and connections are pieced together. Each of the central characters has suffered, and each has their own particular mental struggle or traumatic experience to come to terms with, which influences their reactions and behaviour. Lena had to overcome loneliness and friendlessness, as well as real neglect and poverty, which at times caused her to do things and to behave in ways that would be frowned on by polite society, simply in order to survive. She had dreams of a life in Vienna but eventually had to abandon these hopes, and become a maid at the sanatorium where she eventually makes friends amongst the staff there.. She worries that her past may eventually catch up with her and lead to rejection, whilst also discovering that she could share her mother's weakness for drink. Meanwhile, Rudolf may have had immense privilege, coming from a much more wealthy background than Lena, but he struggles greatly with his religious and political beliefs at a time of huge turmoil in Austria when the right wing is taking control and democracy is under threat. He becomes the member of a radical political group, putting himself in great danger in doing so. Anton was deeply scarred - mentally and physically - by his time as a soldier during the First World War. He is clearly suffering some form of PTSD and a strong sense of guilt. He is still trying to come to terms with the loss of his relationship, and also the loss of his best friend during the war. Only when he comes to Schloss Seeblick, years later, does he realise how much he needs the benefits and the insights afforded by the talking therapy which is on offer there. Can each of these 3 characters overcome their demons, and come to terms with the troubled past? The mental turmoil and intensity is mirrored in the depiction of the brooding political tensions of the 1930s era, and the rise of extreme right wing fascism throughout Germany, Austria and Italy. The historical context is really well done, with the atmosphere of the novel pervaded by a real sense of unrest and the impending shadow about to descend across Europe. This, along with the prose of the novel with its evocative and beautiful descriptions is what we have come to expect from Sebastian Faulks over the years Snow Country is a thoughtful and thought provoking read, with only one slight weakness. For me, the relationship between Lena and Anton, was a tad unconvincing and felt a little contrived, but this was the only small disappointment in an otherwise beautifully written and executed, very readable novel., which examines the many ways that the human mind, body and spirit can be challenged and the possibility of, if not a cure, finding an accommodation with the past - in whatever form that may be. With thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for the arc in return for an honest review

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Garrett

    With SNOW COUNTRY, Sebastian Faulks reaffirms his place as one of the greatest novelists of our times. It is both learned and lyrical and confirms Mr Faulks’ role as the voice of the human heart. The narrative starts in Vienna, where we meet a series of characters who are standing on the threshold of First World War. All over Europe, lives and loves are being thrown into chaos. Although we already know this intellectually, the beauty of SNOW COUNTRY is that we feel it as well. The characters are With SNOW COUNTRY, Sebastian Faulks reaffirms his place as one of the greatest novelists of our times. It is both learned and lyrical and confirms Mr Faulks’ role as the voice of the human heart. The narrative starts in Vienna, where we meet a series of characters who are standing on the threshold of First World War. All over Europe, lives and loves are being thrown into chaos. Although we already know this intellectually, the beauty of SNOW COUNTRY is that we feel it as well. The characters are exquisitely rendered so that when this person goes missing, the reader is left anxiously awaiting news that may or may not ever come. Because the novel is being played out against actual events from the first half of the 20th century, the reader effectively holds a crystal ball over the characters’ plans. It’s a tantalising, yet heart-breaking position to be in, and I was conscious of trying to slow myself down and savour the piece rather than just rush on to find out what happens. There is so much to admire about Sebastian Faulks, not least the way he seems to renew his rules of engagement with each novel. In SNOW COUNTRY the backdrop is the great sweep of early 20th-century history and the big debates underway in politics and psychology. Yet, while reading, I kept thinking of Monet’s waterlilies and how Faulks’ prose feels like a form of narrative impressionism. It’s this accumulation of perfect details, a verbal pointillism if you will, which brings the lives and loves of his characters to life. As readers we are then able to zoom in and out between the enormous, unfathomable canvass of history, and the minutiae of the hearts and minds which speak to us the most. All in all, another triumph for Sebastian Faulks. With many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me see an advance copy of SNOW COUNTRY.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Following on from Sebastian Faulks’ 2005 ‘Human Traces, ‘Snow Country’ is another thematically ambitious novel, set principally in Austria in the first third of the twentieth century. It also focuses on mental health and the ways in which psychotherapy and psychiatry may or may not cure suffering. Not surprisingly there are plenty of references to Freudian beliefs. And yet this novel wears its learning a little more lightly than in ‘Human Traces’ and is the better for it. Journalist Anton falls i Following on from Sebastian Faulks’ 2005 ‘Human Traces, ‘Snow Country’ is another thematically ambitious novel, set principally in Austria in the first third of the twentieth century. It also focuses on mental health and the ways in which psychotherapy and psychiatry may or may not cure suffering. Not surprisingly there are plenty of references to Freudian beliefs. And yet this novel wears its learning a little more lightly than in ‘Human Traces’ and is the better for it. Journalist Anton falls in love with a mysterious French woman, Delphine. After his assignment covering the Panama Canal (a fascinating section), he returns to Vienna but it is 2014; she has fled and he joins the army. When the war is over, like millions of others who survive the battlefields of WW1, Anton leads a troubled existence. He explains that it’s difficult to keep the war experience apart, ‘…and not let it flood you with its blood and poison into thinking all life before and after was meaningless and absurd.’ However, when he is sent to report on the medical practices at the Schloss Seeblick sanatorium in the Austrian mountains, he is encouraged to reflect on his experiences to date. Lena, a servant at the sanatorium, has met Anton before although he’s not fully aware of this. Child of a neglectful upbringing by an alcoholic, sometimes prostitute mother, Lena is aware that her life is anything but conventional. She is fortunate that the owner of Schloss Seeblick accepts her for who she is and Lena enjoys her predictable, comfortable life in the mountains, safe from the previous turmoil of Vienna. Nevertheless, when Anton appears past feelings begin to emerge. Whilst Faulks, as ever, allows the history of the time to permeate the narrative superbly, this is a novel for those who enjoy a focus on the inner life. Faulks’ elegant writing is always a pleasure to read and his characters express universal truths memorably as they ponder their own lives. As Anton ruminates, ‘None of us is spared history. That’s what history is. A leveller.’ Both Lena and Anton must come to terms with past losses and damaging experiences. Readers will, undoubtedly, feel some satisfaction that these sympathetic characters gravitate towards each other. Nevertheless, there is something about this relationship which feels a little contrived and perhaps why, ultimately, ‘Snow Country’ cannot be described as one of Faulks triumphs. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK Cornerstone for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ormondebooks

    Sebastian Faulks is quite a prodigious author having written over 20 novels in the past 30 years. As a lover of 𝘉𝘪𝘳𝘥𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘨 & 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘺, I have continued to dip and out of his books over the years. 𝘚𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘊𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺, his latest book, is due for publication on 2 September 2021. The novel is set in Austria in the years 1914-1933, a time of great historical and social upheaval. Lena is the impoverished daughter of an alcoholic mother, who meets the enigmatic Rudolf Plischke and moves to Vienna; Anton i Sebastian Faulks is quite a prodigious author having written over 20 novels in the past 30 years. As a lover of 𝘉𝘪𝘳𝘥𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘨 & 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘺, I have continued to dip and out of his books over the years. 𝘚𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘊𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺, his latest book, is due for publication on 2 September 2021. The novel is set in Austria in the years 1914-1933, a time of great historical and social upheaval. Lena is the impoverished daughter of an alcoholic mother, who meets the enigmatic Rudolf Plischke and moves to Vienna; Anton is a journalist, living in Vienna and waiting for his big break. Vienna proves to be a big disappointment for Lena and she leaves the city to take up a job as a servant in the Schloss Seeblick sanatorium located in the mountains. Anton, who fought on the Eastern Front, is traumatised by what he has seen in war. He is now a renowned writer and is commissioned to do a piece on the mysterious sanatorium. He is drawn immediately to Lena, but does not realise that they have already met before in Vienna under very different circumstances… This was a fascinating period in World History and is one of the aspects of the novel I enjoyed the most: World War 1, the growth of socialism, the depression, the construction of the Panama canal, they all feature here. Of particular interest to me are the references to Freud and the development of psychoanalyses. This is also a story about human suffering and redemption as Lena and Anton discover the essence of who they are. I found the love story element a bit implausible and preferred the historical backdrop to the story. Not the best Faulks noveI I’ve read, but it is an ambitious read. Lovers of historical fiction will certainly enjoy the book. I also wondered whether the book title was the right choice? It did not resonate sufficiently, for me, with the themes of the novel. Many thanks to @netalley and @randomhouseuk for this e-book in return for my honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Snow country is one of the most moving books I've read in a long time. As I read the foreword I realised that it was part of a trilogy - the first instalment of which I read when it was first published in 2005. Faulks, being the incredible writer he is, I'm sure there are details in that first book that will link with, and which are pertinent to, the story in Snow Country. But as there is a 16 year gap between the two books, I'm going to have go back and read the first one again to see what I mi Snow country is one of the most moving books I've read in a long time. As I read the foreword I realised that it was part of a trilogy - the first instalment of which I read when it was first published in 2005. Faulks, being the incredible writer he is, I'm sure there are details in that first book that will link with, and which are pertinent to, the story in Snow Country. But as there is a 16 year gap between the two books, I'm going to have go back and read the first one again to see what I might have missed. Snow country is essentially a love story, but the agonies and ecstasies of the two central protagonists are so beautifully played. The missed opportunities, the misguided decisions and actions and the miscommunication - so reminiscent of the Henry James' novels that I read as a teenager through to my twenties - are exquisitely examined. There is such a depth of emotion in this story. Add in the fabulous landscape of Austria, the looming first war and the march towards a second, and the activism prevalent across Europe in the interwar years and you have an ever-present sense of gathering danger throughout. I found the narrative flowed exceptionally well. I found the characters absorbing, each in their own way. The plot was well paced and provided interesting turns of fate. But there is pathos and sadness here, too. For me, this turned out to be a two-hanky book. The first one for when I was reading it. I needed the second for the days and weeks afterwards when I discovered that Anton and Lena wouldn't leave my thoughts, and later for those times when someone made a comment or asked a question and suddenly I was back with Rudolf, or one of the other characters and yet another deeper level of realisation popped into my conscious mind. A wonderful read. This book is a keeper as I know I will return to it.

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