By Magda Szabo
The book is an author’s memoir, set in Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century. Magda was an only child whose parents raised her with the understanding that one day she would be a famous writer. Her father loved culture, literature and art. So he started educating her before she even started to attend school. He taught her Latin. Magda was surrounded by the love of her parents, when one day her father comes home with a little blond girl named Cecilia in his arms. She was orphaned when both of her parents were shot as they all tried to leave the country. When Magda sees Cecilia in her father’s arms she becomes angry and jealous, screaming to her father to bring back the little girl. This book was dedicated to that girl, who now is Magda’s sister. As time passed she begins to love her sister, always protecting and caring for her. Cecilia was very musical with an amazing voice and a talented dancer. The story is about the tragic life of Cecilia. She fell in love with a boy from her dancing class who also fell in love with her. They knew they never could be together as the young boy, also an orphan, had been “bought” by the town’s richest man. In exchange for the support that allowed him to study medicine he promised to marry his ugly daughter. Since they both knew their love had no future, Cecilia decides to marry a famous musician from Italy. She was only 18 at the time and her husband was 52. She married in order to escape from her lost love. All she really wanted was to be far away from her true love. Tragically she died only two years later.
Magda Szabo is a famous Hungarian writer who was 90 years old when she wrote this book. I enjoyed her novel “Abigail”, it was so vividly written, that I was sure I would like this book too. Unfortunately this is not one of her best books; I found the story hard to follow. This is the first of two her memoir books she wrote, but I’m not sure if I will read the second one. I was disappointed after reading this book, not because the story, but the way it was written. Szabo is a good author and I’m sure I will find one of her earlier books I will enjoy as much as I did “Abigail”.