Author: Peter Gardos
Genre: Historical/WWII Fiction
Length: 224 Pages
Release: April 2016 (First published 2010)
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is a novelization of the story of the author's parents, Miklos and Lili, who were both survivors of the Holocaust. Miklos wrote to over 100 Hungarian girls after the war, hoping to find love. And thus began his correspondence with Lili.
In the beginning I wasn't sure I would enjoy this. They first 50 or so pages were very difficult for me to connect with. I had a hard time really connecting with the characters, although I did feel for them. Once I got past this first part I enjoyed the story much more.
One of the things that worked best was the epistolary style. It was not an entirely epistolary novel, but included many letters (or fragments of letters) throughout. This gave more of a connection with the two central characters and their emotions. This was the aspect of the novel that I thought worked best.
The focus of the novel was not the horrors that the characters faced during their time in Concentration Camps, but this did have an impact on the story. It is always heartbreaking to hear about the things that people have endured during wars, but it can also be inspirational to see how they survive and what they do afterward.
The novel follows the events after that first letter and how Miklos and Lili fall in love. It's often quite sweet and has some bitter moments as they each face issues with health and friends. Not everyone is as thrilled with their love as they are, quietly working to sabotage their chances.
This was a translation so I don't know if that has anything to do with the aspects of the writing style that didn't work for me. The main thing that held me back from enjoying this even more than I did was the way the narrator (or author) interjected himself into the story. This worked well to introduce the reader to the fact that the story was about his parents, and at the end to wrap up their story, but I found it pulled me out of Miklos and Lili's story when the narrator referred to himself in the first person.
Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable novel. There were sweet moments as well as sad, love found and love lost. I would recommend this to those interested in stories involving Holocaust survivors, WWII, or the epistolary form.