Fever at Dawn By Peter Gardos
Original title – Hajnaliláz
Translator -Elizabeth Szász
Source – review copy
I was sent this very early this year its publishers have sent a lot of review copies out for a debut novel by the Hungarian film director Peter Gardos. He has directed a huge number of films since the early 1970’s . This book is also a film I will include the trailer for the film at the end of this review as I found it very touching. The book came about when Gardos father passed away and he discovered a box of letters from when they first met shortly before he was born. That he was given to him by his mother these hadn’t been read since 1946.
Dear Nora, Dear Eresbet, Dear Lilli, Dear Zsuzsa, Dear Sara, Dear Serena, Dear Agnes, Dear Giza , Dear Baba, Dear Katalin, Dear Judit, Dear Gabriella…..
You are probably used to strangers chatting you up when you speak Hungarian, for no better reason than they are Hungarian too. We men can be so bad-mannered. For example, I addressed you by your first name on pretext that we grew up in the same town. I don’t know whether you already know me from Debrecen. Until my homeland ordered me to “Volunteer” for forced labour, I worked for the independent newspaper, and my father owned a bookshop in Gambrinus Court?
Excuse me for writing in pencil. but I’m confined to bed for a few days on doctor’s orders, and we’re not allowed to use ink in bed
Miklos letter to the 117 woman from his hometown in refugee camps in Sweden .
Miklos has ended up in Sweden in the chaos that followed the end of the second world war having been liberated from Belsen , he has ended up at a refugee camp. But he hasn’t a bright future he has been told he has just six months left in this world so this crafty chap gets someone to get a list of all the woman in Sweden from his home town in Hungary. The list ends up with 117 names so he spends time writing a handwritten letter to each of them. HE sends them out not knowing what will happen . He gets a reply from Lili a woman touched by his letter but also a daydreamer so what happens is a love in letters as the two start to write to one another in the chaos of the post war years this shining light of a love blossoming that slowly drags the half dead Miklos to life and away from death.As both have wounds from Belsen to recover from the strength of the love built-in words show the power of words to sooth the soul.
I’m unlikely to be the person you were thinking of, because, Though I was born in Debrecen, I lived in Budapest from the age of one. Nonetheless, I’ve thought a lot about you. Your friendly letter was so comforting that I would be happy for you to write again.
That was a half truth pf course. Confined to bed with a strange new illness, out of fear, by way of escape or just to stave off boredom, Lili allowed herself to daydream
Touched by his letter and to break her own Boredom Lili writes back and the story starts off ..
What is not to like in this well I am a romantic and I love stories like these. I love that Peter found his fathers and mothers letters and worked them into this book. I just love the sheer chance of the story a Hungarian man and woman fall in love in the utter chaos of post war europe in Sweden one dying the other looking for a way to live both wanting a new future and all this story told by their own son sixty years later. It is one of those true stories that almost seem unreal. The two characters stories draw you in the lament for their past that they know after Belsen will never be there again the city the grew up in is for ever changed.This is one of those books I’m sure people will talk about a lot about this book for a book club as it touches your soul if like me you are romantic and believe in love conquering all .Here is the trailer I love this trailer .