Read Summer At Gaglow by Esther Freud Online


Sarah is already in her late twenties with an acting career in London and a baby on the way when she learns from her father about Gaglow, his family's grand East German country estate that was seized before the war. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the estate will now come back to them.Sarah attempts to solicit from her father all he knows about Gaglow: the three lucky siSarah is already in her late twenties with an acting career in London and a baby on the way when she learns from her father about Gaglow, his family's grand East German country estate that was seized before the war. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the estate will now come back to them.Sarah attempts to solicit from her father all he knows about Gaglow: the three lucky sisters, Bina, Martha, and Eva; their masterly governess, Fraulein Schulze; their father, Wolf Belgard, a prosperous Jewish grain dealer; their mother, Marianna, a "vulgar woman" whose children privately mocked her; and their older brother, Emanuel, wretched from the family to serve his country.Alternating between Sarah's life and her grandmother's childhood during the First World War, Summer at Gaglow unites four generations of an extraordinary family across the vast reaches of silence, place, loss, and time....

Title : Summer At Gaglow
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780880016728
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Summer At Gaglow Reviews

  • Reid
    2019-05-29 10:49

    Three sisters in the time preceding and during World War I in Germany find common ground in their disdain for their mother and love of their brother. In a parallel story in the present day, three half-sisters in England find common ground in their love for and frustration with their father, among other things. These stories are told in alternating chapters. In the center of them all, looming like a shadow, is a grand home in the German countryside, Gaglow.Gaglow is given as payment of a debt to the German girls' father. This form of payment is complicated by the fact that the family is Jewish and were therefore not supposed to own land; property was OK, but fields and such, not so. This edifice is a dream palace for one of the girls and her mother, something of a prison to the other two girls, who find it dowdy and overwhelming. When in the present time it is discovered that Gaglow has been inherited by the family of the half-sisters, one of them also evinces, sight unseen, a passion for this place.The characters here are sharply drawn and the prose and plot development are masterful. Does this sound like damning with faint praise? I'm afraid that is so. The odd thing about this book is that, while the subject matter would seem to suggest warmth, caring and loving or tragedy, sadness, and grief, the reader is kept at perpetual arm's length from any emotional involvement. In the end, the deaths and loves and births and joys feel more like a laundry list of things happening to some distant relation than something in which we have been invited to participate. How odd.I doubt this was Freud's intention, this icy distance. I suspect she set out to write a book about people we would end up caring deeply about. But something in her prose and her descriptions seems to work against this ever happening, though I am a bit stumped to say exactly what it is. But this feeling of uninvolvement, as if this is all being seen in dumb show behind a pane of glass, is pervasive and inescapable. It's a true shame, because in every other way this is a masterful book (though I found the predictability of the alternating chapters a bit dull). This is the first of her books I have read and the pure talent she displays will certainly make it worth my while to look further. I wanted to like this book and its characters, but in the end found I could not. Maybe next time.

  • Ape
    2019-05-18 08:54

    Interesting enough story set in two time periods about two sections of the same family... left me with a lot of ponderings. I've read a lot of Freud's books and I really like her writing. This was good but I don't think it was my favourite. There are some of the usual traits in here: the relationship between mothers and daughters, well-written children; the usual single hippy mother; although this one has only just given birth, whereas her other mothers tend to have walking and talking kids.The modern day is in London with out of work actress Sarah who is heavily pregnant, and then with her little baby, Sonny. She's sitting for a painting her father is doing and he mentions that this family home, Gaglow, in Germany has been returned to the family. It was taken off them in world war II as they were Jewish as far as I can understand.The historical bit is in Germany just before, during and after the first world war. This was the most interesting bit for me. They're a well-to-do family, the father going into some kind of depressive decline at the thought of war, the son off to be a solider and the three younger sisters having to muddle on through the war. The girls have this tutor, Schu-Schu who is such an evil monster. She spends all her time looking down her nose at the mother, and making the girls hate their own mother. Binu, the eldest of the three girls, takes to this the most, coming across as a little poison child. Eva, the youngest of the three, is goaded into all this behavour by her older sister, but when alone with her mother comes to love her again. The wierd thing about the whole story is that the eldest, the son, ends up marrying the tutor after the war, horrifying the whole family. They go to Jersusalem, he dies, and the mother goes over there and brings the tutor back to live with her. ALL three daughters refuse to ever see her again. Such a turn about of attitudes. Strange.

  • Moushumi Ghosh
    2019-06-12 15:57

    I absolutely enjoyed reading this Esther Freud book. After 'Hideous Kinky', I would say this is the book that matches that standard. When reading about the Second World War, the 'other side', is not usually focused on. We know what happened to the British, French and Indians. (Disclaimer: This is just my opinion and reflects my access to books and my reading pattern only. If you have had a different experience, feel free to contradict.) There are so many books - fiction and non fiction- in popular culture which touch upon that. But this was the first novel that looked at what happened to a family on the other side of the yet to be built wall. I loved the normality of it but soon that disappears as war changes everything it touches. Gaglow appears to be a character itself in the book. It's an estate but more than that it is a small piece of heaven - and later haven - for the Belgards who happen to be German and Jewish. The story does not touch about any of the painful emigration to the UK but rather covers the almost innocent beginnings of this war. The story mostly focuses on Eva, the youngest of the three Belgard sisters, and her descendants.There is this palpable feeling of loss of heritage that Gaglow stands for - a way of life, a certain innocence and a particular kind of beauty. Alternative chapters are narrated by Sarah Linder, Eva's granddaughter and a third person narration from Eva's perspective, it seems like the story starts at two ends of an emotional spectrum and then joins in the middle. There is much healing in this union. Read because you like novels about the Second World War.

  • Sally Knotwell
    2019-05-27 12:05

    From the first page, I felt as though I would not hate this book. Most of the time I either Love a book or I HATE it. This book was really a faster read than I expected it to be. At times, I stopped to wonder about what the whole point of the book was. And the ending was confusing to say the least. It didn't seem to end. I felt as though the author had nothing else to say so she placed a period at the end of the sentence and shut the cover! I can, however, see how family histories can be distorted by the telling of them over several generations. Sarah, our main character in modern times, is told the story of Shu-Shu the nanny who was thought to be a gypsy woman who put a curse on the family because she thought her wedding to the only son, Emmanuel, wasn't lavish enough. In reality, it seems she was just a woman who had cared for the the daughters of the household and married the only son after his return from the war and a Russian prison...mindful that she wasn't really welcomed by the family, she and Emmanuel moved to Jerusalem and when he died, his mother went to the funeral and brought Shu-Shu back to Germany to live out her days with the mother. I gathered there was no curse. All-in-all, I didn't hate the book and certainly didn't resent the time it took to read it.

  • Jeannine
    2019-05-16 11:57

    "Summer at Gaglow" gives the reader a glimpse into pre-WWI Germany with its many nuances of class and culture. Gaglow itself is the country home that represents the loss of civility for the Belgard’s, a wealthy Jewish family. The family made up of an eccentric mother, proper father, duty-bound son, and three daughters, the youngest being Eva. The book also tells a parallel modern-day story of Eva’s granddaughter Sarah and her search for her own identity leading her back to the pivotal family home where she can re-connect the dots between past and present. Ultimately, the books falls short of its lofty goals and presents flattened characters that remain caricatures of what they could have become. It is a lovely read but the plot lacks the staying power to remain with the reader after the close of the last page.

  • Ainsley
    2019-05-26 14:07

    Summer at Gaglow tells two related stories from two different time periods, connected by family ties and the German country estate, Gaglow, of the title. Freud tells of the World War One experiences of three Jewish sisters -- Bina, Martha and Eva -- living in Germany with their governess, their parents and their brother, Emanuel. Alternate chapters are narrated by Sarah, a new single mother living in late-twentieth-century London. Sarah's father, Michael, is the son of Eva. He is a painter and has fathered, with two other women, two other daughters, who are Sarah's half-sisters. Freud writes well, and although I found the early chapters a bit slow, I soon became absorbed in the stories in this book. I look forward to trying some of Freud's other novels.

  • Freya Stewart
    2019-05-29 08:10

    The story of a family through time.This book balances really well the experiences of the family during WWI and the experiences of their children and grandchildren today. I really enjoyed this book, it was a quick easy read and quite engaging though I did sometimes find that the plot lagged in certain areas and I found the WWI chapters more interesting than those involving Sarah. I also was disappointed that the book builds up to Sarah visiting Gaglow before it is sold but this doesn't happen until the last chapter and there's just some description about the estate now and that is where it finishes, I would have liked to have read more about her experience there, but that might just be me.

  • Fiona
    2019-05-27 08:07

    Lots that is interesting in this book, in particular details of the experience of World War I from the German perspective, and also the sections on the modern day character sitting for a painting by her father, presumably based on the writer's own experiences with her father, Lucian Freud. Overall it feels a little slight, and not as deeply engaging as its subject matter suggests, and also I found the ending rather abrupt and unsatisfying. The "twist" is obvious ages beforehand, and everything else just seems to be left hanging.

  • Susan
    2019-05-24 12:02

    This was a book club selection. I'm not particularly wild about books that jump from the present to the past & back again. Books with that premise have to be absolutely engrossing to keep my attention. This book wasn't engrossing in the least. I didn't relate or like any of the characters and I found the book rather dull & plodding. I hate to say that I didn't finish another book from the book club, but I have to admit that I didn't finish the book. It just didn't keep my interest.

  • Evi
    2019-06-06 10:47

    In de serie 'boeken voor de zomer met 'zomer' in de titel': de moeite waard. De rest van het oeuvre verkennen bleek niet zo'n nodige uitstap. Hoe 'Zomer in Gaglow' aanspreekt omwille van zijn connectie over generaties heen, zozeer herhaalt het thema zich in andere boeken (bv. liefdesval). Desondanks is één werk van Freud lezen (ook over generaties heen?) niet overbodig.

  • Psirene
    2019-05-30 12:56

    I stayed up too late reading this book. I wanted to give the character Brina a good shake. She was more destructive to the family than the war.It was the tale of four generations of a German Jewish family. It was a story of family ties and a house that bound them even after the family had scattered across Europe.

  • Aviv
    2019-05-19 09:03

    Reminded me of Jane Austen, a tad slow in the first half, occasionally interrupted by modern-day offshoot chapters that never quite seemed relevant. Even the ending failed to deliver conclusive closure. The book does leave a general feeling of contentment.

  • Marguerite
    2019-05-20 12:09

    A beautiful, delicate book about families, loss and redemption. The tale moves back and forth from World War I Germany to modern England, with a country home called Gaglow the emotional anchor for two different generations. Esther Freud's writing is evocative but powerful.

  • Lynn Kearney
    2019-05-30 10:01

    I'm probably more interested in what I assume are the semi- autobiographical details of the author's famous family - she's the daughter of painter Lucian Freud and the great granddaughter of Sigmund - than I was in the plot. Very readable though.

  • Annie Guthrie
    2019-05-17 08:47

    Interesting book which held my interest.....but the vendetta inspired by the Nanny toward the Mother seemed bizarre.....just did not ring true to me....

  • Melanie Vidrine
    2019-05-20 11:01

    very good book

  • Lori
    2019-06-10 08:07

    interesting flip flop from past to present, all the family secrets weren't revealed though

  • Vanessa
    2019-05-28 07:42

    Very atmospheric and a pleasant read. Especially loved learning about the painter's process as I have always been a fan of Lucian Freud's art.

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-23 14:44

    Beautiful book and story. Sad - but a real life experience that many - many people have in their own histories. Told well.

  • Lisa
    2019-06-02 13:55

    I registered a book at!

  • Daisy
    2019-05-24 11:45

    Eh. Disappointing in the end. Every book of hers that I've read is a pleasant enough read but isn't weighty enough to make much of an impression.