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Summary

Jacques Rebiere and Thomas Midwinter, both sixteen when the story starts in 1876, come from different countries and contrasting families. They are united by an ambition to understand how the mind works and whether madness is the price we pay for being human. As psychiatrists, their quest takes them from the squalor of the Victorian lunatic asylum to the crowded lecture halls of the renowned Professor Charcot in Paris; from the heights of the Sierra Madre in California to the plains of unexplored Africa. Their search is made urgent by the case of Jacques's brother Olivier, for whose severe illness no name has yet been found.

Thomas's sister Sonia becomes the pivotal figure in the volatile relationship between the two men, which threatens to explode with the arrival in their Austrian sanatorium of an enigmatic patient, Fraulein Katharina von A, whose illness epitomises all that divides them.

As the concerns of the old century fade and the first World War divides Europe, the novel rises to a climax in which the value of what it means to be alive seems to hang in the balance.

This is Sebastian Faulks's most ambitious novel yet, with scenes of emotional power recalling his most celebrated work, yet set here on an even larger scale. Moving and challenging in equal measure, Human Traces explores the question of what kind of beings men and women really are.

©2005 Sebastian Faulks (P)2005 Random House Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good account of kind attempts to heal/understand

Mostly humdrum style of writing faithfully narrated.
Interesting theory near end about the origins of psychosis

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Superb

Moving, intricate story about the human condition, beautifully read. Thank you Sebastian, than you Samuel.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing

Sebastian Faulks is my favourite author and this book is equally as wonderful as his others. The psychology aspects of it make it amazing for any social science fan.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Helen
  • Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 29-06-10

For insomniacs

I'm afraid I just couldn't get to the end of this one, despie many many attempts. I just kept falling asleep. Was it the story, or the narrator? I'm not sure. I might try the printed version to be sure, but I don't think this was one of Faulks' best.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Naomi
  • Weymouth, Dorset, United Kingdom
  • 20-11-06

Aural Mogodon

I downloaded this audio book In an attempt to get through it for a book club. The best comment I can make is that I now own an instant cure for insomnia. An emperors new clothes of a story.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful