13 Mar 2013

Guest book highlight: “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” & “Sebastian” by Christoph Fischer

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Guest book highlight: “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” & “Sebastian” by Christoph Fischer

the luck book
 Plot of “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles into life with the Winkelmeier clan. The political climate and slow disintegration of the multi-cultural society in Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and their families. The story follows their lot through the war with its torment, destruction and its unpredictability – and the equally hard times after. From the moment that Greta Weissensteiner enters the bookstore where Wilhelm Winkelmeier works, and entrances him with her good looks and serious ways, I was hooked. But this is no ordinary romance; in fact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story.
What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance Christoph Fischer gives his readers to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. Set in the fascinating area of Bratislava, this is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck. I cared about every one of this novel’s characters and continued to think about them long after I’d finished reading.

sebastian book

Plot of “Sebastian”:

This is the forthcoming second book by Christoph Fischer: Sebastian is the story of a young man in 1913 Vienna who has to come to terms with the amputation of his leg just before World War I. When his father is drafted to fight he has to step up and manage the family grocery store through the hard times, bad fortunes and changes of personnel. Vienna is the capital of a multi-cultural and multi-religious, liberal society that is on the verge of collapsing into several split nations, a development accelerated by the war. Against this backdrop Sebastian is finding himself and his own place in life.

What reviewers say:

… a story of the strength of the human spirit … survival and hope … I will not forget this read for a while to come.
This is a well-crafted work of literature. It makes excellent and proper use of language. The word choice and sentence structure used is truly inspired, and shows artistry … I was barely into this book and I felt that I was reading a work that had been published out of its era, as though it were a classic work, only discovered and released in the modern age. I would have believed this book was written in the time it was set in. The themes the author chose to addressed, from classism and anti-Semitism to religious bias, mental illness, and sexual orientation, were all well presented in plot, and nothing felt forced or even slightly out of place. I was, and still am amazed at the quality of craftsmanship shown in the storytelling. I expected a work of fiction. This was a work of art.
If you enjoy well drawn characters whose lives and choices so deftly represent the themes of a book, The Luck of the Weissensteiners provides a rich read. In some ways, this book reminds me of classics I read long ago like The Canterbury Tales, or even The Odyssey, due to the diversity of personalities and the theme of journeys. … we see a cross section of humanity. Through their eyes and reactions, we can appreciate the full range of real outcomes and experiences, happy to sad or shocking, that occurred to real individuals during this era. By the way, the title of the book was an outstanding choice.
It seems paradoxical that a book chronicling hatred, fear, loss and death can be uplifting, but The Luck of the Weissensteiners left me on a high. This is a story about the best human qualities: love, generosity, trust, faith and hope. Christoph Fischer has brilliantly combined emotive fiction with detailed, historical facts to create a powerful and engrossing story. Although I finished reading it five days ago I’m still affected by its message and still charmed by many of its characters.
The Weissensteiners is an intellectual achievement and a lesson in historical perspective, as we are reminded that history is just that, a story told from a human point of view. In any given period of time, there are as many stories as there are participants, along with many converging sensibilities. … this is decidedly not another rendition of the holocaust. The novel illustrates how the destruction of war rained down on both Jews and non-Jews, who were part of the same community, often got along quite well and even intermarried This is not a book that you will read and immediately forget. The effects of it will linger on, and that is the mark of a truly talented author.
For the whole time reading this I kept thinking to myself that every single bit of this book is written as thou the writer has actually been there, when all of this was happening. I truly admire his work and ability to research everything in such details, and this is a true work of art … this book has not lost my attention for one second, and I truly can tell that I can’t wait for book 2.
The Luck of the Weissensteiners is the tale of a family. But it is also a tale about us. About some of us being evil, some of us cowards, some of us brave, but most of us innately good. Francis Bacon said some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed… The Luck of the Weissensteiners is to be chewed and digested. I can see that the author has made a great effort to show the reader what turmoil families endured to remain in contact with their loved ones, which must have been quite some feat considering the displacement of Jews after the war had ended. Congratulations to Christoph, for what must have been many long hours researching details and information to ensure that the plight of the family was made ‘real’ to the reader.
It is not easy to write about history if one has not lived in the moment, since what one writes is colored by the opinions of others. Christoph Fischer pulls it off in The Luck of the Weissenteiners.
And this is no ordinary Holocaust tragedy: it is a much more subtle and far-ranging canvas than that. For Fischer is not dealing with the obvious victims of those troubled times, rather with families and individuals who were more on the periphery and therefore affected in unforeseeable ways. He makes the characters and the frightening and bewildering situations they face come vividly alive. You will find it hard to put down as you follow your favourite characters through one testing situation after another. I thoroughly recommend you read it.

About the Author

Christoph Fischer is a new author who has taken on an ambitious project of writing three historical novels set in different nations to discuss the subjects of Nations and identity. In his first instalment “The Luck of The Weissensteiners” he takes us to Slovakia in the 1930s and sheds light on complex political development while telling the story of one Jewish family from 1933 until 1946. In “Sebastian” he moves back in time to the Vienna of 1913 and tells how a different family in a different era is confronted with similar themes, albeit under less extreme circumstances. As German expat living in the UK and having family roots in Eastern Europe Fischer’s own experiences clearly add to the tone of his writing.  Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother near the border to Austria. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He soon moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he is still resident today. The “Luck of The Weissensteiners” was published in 2012 and “Sebastian” in spring 2013. They are part of the Three Nations Trilogy which he plans to complete by the end of 2013.
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written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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