The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler is a touching and poignant novel that explores the coming-of-age story of a young man in the face of the impending tragedy of World War II. The book is set in Vienna in 1937, where the protagonist, Franz Huchel, moves from a small village to work at a tobacco shop, and soon finds himself caught up in the political turmoil and the personal turmoil of his own life.
The novel is a slow-burning tale that gradually builds up the tension as the threat of war looms larger and larger. Seethaler masterfully captures the atmosphere of pre-war Vienna, with its rich cultural heritage and its simmering tensions, and brings the city to life in vivid detail.
One of the most compelling aspects of the novel is the relationship between Franz and his boss, the tobacconist, Herr Freud. The two men come from very different backgrounds, but they form a deep and lasting friendship that is tested by the political forces that threaten to tear them apart. Herr Freud, who is Jewish, becomes the target of anti-Semitic persecution, and Franz must confront his own prejudices and fears as he tries to protect his friend.
Seethaler’s prose is elegant and understated, yet it has a powerful emotional impact. He is able to convey the depth of feeling and the complexity of human relationships in a way that is both subtle and profound. The Tobacconist is a beautifully crafted novel that is at once a moving portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age and a powerful meditation on the devastating impact of war and intolerance.
In summary, The Tobacconist is a must-read for anyone interested in historical fiction, coming-of-age stories, or simply great storytelling. Seethaler’s writing is superb, and his ability to create a vivid and compelling world is second to none. If you’re looking for a novel that will both move and inspire you, this is one that you won’t want to miss.