The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain

It is common knowledge that Switzerland is and was a neutral country. However, on August 18, 1938, the Swiss justice ministry issued a directive that all German, Austrian, and French Jews are to be turned back. And so begins the agony and downfall of Erich Perle, a non-Jewish assistant chief of police. He is deemed a criminal by the state he reveres and a traitor to the profession he loves. But is not indifference a moral crime? Erich torments himself with this question. He asks himself whether to act morally and bravely cannot be criminal. But the main character, as in the title, is Gustav, Erich’s son. Unloved by his cold, distant mother, he becomes an extraordinarily kind and successful human being who strives to overcome extreme poverty and rejection by his mother. Gustav inherits the moral conscience of his father. He becomes a kind and giving person his entire life. I enjoyed the tender and powerful friendship between Gustav and Anton, a musician who struggles with stage terror. If you have never read a novel by Rose Tremain, this is a good place to start.


David recommends:
Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen, Adeena Sussman

On the inside flap of this magisterial new cookbook, writer Nathan Englander writes, "It's been more than twenty years since I first got invited to eat a meal at Adeena's apartment in Jerusalem. And it's thrilling to see what two decades of exploration, artistry, experimentation--and a move to Tel Aviv--have led to. Sababa is a celebration of the best of Israeli cuisine. Reflective of the many cultures that make it up, Sababa has all of the classics, along with a million exciting and dizzyingly innovative twists. I'm swapping out my shakshuka recipe with Adeena's as of right now." Sababa means "everything is awesome," and this book certainly is. It is the cookbook for the chef in your life who has all of the great cookbooks but needs this meticulous one to add to their collection.


Is It Rosh Hashanah Yet?, Chris Barash with pictures by Alessandra Psacharopulo

There are many hints that the Jewish New Year is nearly here. This book is perfect for very young children as an introduction to the holiday, with beautiful pictures and deceptively simple text.


An English Bookshop

Sandra Selects