A magnificent wartime love story about the forces that brought the author’s parents together and those that nearly drove them apart
Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry - a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, the industrialist patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family that owned factories, were patrons of intellectuals and artists, and entertained dignitaries at their baronial estates. Though many in the family had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, when the Germans invaded Hungary in March 1944, they were forced into hiding. In a secret and controversial deal brokered with Heinrich Himmler, the family turned over their vast holdings in exchange for their safe passage to Portugal.
Aladár survived Dachau, a fragile and anxious version of himself. After nearly two years without contact, he located Hanna and wrote her a letter that warned that he was not the man she’d last seen, but he was still in love with her. After months of waiting for visas and transit, she finally arrived in a devastated Budapest in December 1945, where at last they were wed.
Framed by a cache of letters written between 1940 and 1947, Szegedy-Maszák’s family memoir tells the story, at once intimate and epic, of the complicated relationship Hungary had with its Jewish population - the moments of glorious humanism that stood apart from its history of anti-Semitism - and with the rest of the world. She resurrects in riveting detail a lost world of splendor and carefully limns the moral struggles that history exacted - from a country and its individuals.
©2013 Marianne Szegedy-Maszák (P)2013 Random House Audio
“I Kiss Your Hand Many Times is the sweeping story of Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s family in pre- and post-World War II Europe, capturing the many ways the struggles of that period shaped her family for years to come. But most of all it is a beautiful love story, charting her parents’ devotion in one of history’s darkest hours." (Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief, the Huffington Post Media Group)
"In this panoramic and gripping narrative of a vanished world of great wealth and power, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák restores an important missing chapter of European, Hungarian, and Holocaust history." (Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story and Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America)
"This family memoir is everything you could wish for in the genre: the story of a fascinating family that illuminates the historical time it lived through.... Informative and fascinating in every way, [I Kiss Your Hands Many Times] is a great introduction to World War II Hungary and a moving tale of personal relationships in a time of great duress." (Booklist)
So many books--so little time
Let me start with what I liked about the book. When the author wrote about events and people she actually experienced first hand it was wonderful. It was engaging and kept me listening far past the point that I would ordinarily have given up. She captures the Budapest that I have experienced and I loved those parts.
The rest I'm afraid was written in an overly ornate and cumbersomely florid and stilted style. Repetitive and almost circular. The long lists of people with complex family names, properties and belongings once owned--but never really fleshed out through true story telling quickly becomes tiresome.
The narration was one of the biggest problems for me. When authors act as narrators it often goes wrong. In this case it was difficult. Mispronunciation of words with stress placed inconsistently on the wrong syllable peppered the reading. Frequent verbal stumbles mixed with a tone that was cloying and even condescending made it too much. It just ruined it for me. I think this could have been picked up early in production and corrected. I wonder if a different reader might have saved the book?
less info on war more character expansion
sounds like a teacher
not my cup of tea
First a different narrator, second, too much jumping around.
The love affair.
Narrated by someone else.
There are so many great books on this period of time with teriffic narrators, this for me, wasn't one of them. I'm sure the story would have been great also if told differently and narrated by someone else.
Yes. There are so many historical details and personal elements that it's difficult to fully absorb in one reading/listening experience. Also, it's so lovingly crafted that it's poignancy is worth re-experiencing.
The author and her parents feelings and emotions make them all favorites.
It is relaxed yet conveys great feeling.
It didn't make me laugh or cry but it did haunt me and stay with me. It was fully engaging.
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