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Thurles Library; Recommended Reads

A short (239 pages) gentle story set against the darkening days of the Nazi occupation. Franz is a shy naïve 17 year old who leaves all he has known in the Salzkammergut in 1937, to work in the big city, Vienna where his mother has arranged an apprenticeship with an old friend Otto Trsynek who runs a tobacconist shop. One of the customers is a certain well known Professor Freud, psychoanalyst and Jew, and Franz is drawn to him as a kind of father figure. They develop an unusual friendship while warily observing the insidious creep of National Socialism in Vienna after the Anschluss of Austria in April 1938. Robert Seethaler creates a superb sense of time and place, and Franz’s reflections, self-doubt and sometimes plain bewilderment in the face of both falling in love and of the rise of thuggery and vicious political control are perfectly portrayed. It is the story of one individual set against a terrible time and place. What makes this story so good is the quality of writing, the rich descriptions and the storytelling.

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