This beautiful, sad and moving book is the story of a man at odds with life, himself, his wife and his sons. I enjoyed it very much.
Living in luxury in a purposefully designed building on an estate which he regards as idyllic, Johann Veraguth lives separately from his wife in the main house. Their young son, Pierre, helps to maintain the only tie that now binds them.
Johann paints to escape the loneliness and pain of the emotional wounds he bears, but his self-absorbtion only serves to further isolate him from Pierre, who hates the smell of the oils, and his wife, who does not understand his works.
Hope comes in the form of a close friend who suggests he travel to the east with him and discover a new life there. Before this plan comes to fruition however, tragedy strikes the family and forces them to look to each other for the strength to endure it.
Beautifully written, Hesse has a wonderful ability to create characters of truth, that illustrate the human condition in a wonderfully balanced way. The book is poignant and, for those who have ears to hear, a timely reminder to take time now to cherish the things that are truly important in life. All too soon, they will be lost to us.