Feb 17, 12
Read from February 01 to 17, 2012
This is my favorite book read thus far this year. It is another side of the Holocaust of which I was totally unaware. I had not realized that Hungarian Jews were treated somewhat differently until the bitter end of the war.
Orringer tells the story of Andras Levy (a favorite character for me now) who as a very young man travels to Paris from Hungary to study architecture on a scholarship. He is obviously quite talented but even so encounters quite a bit of prejudice even losing his scholarship and having to find a way to make it on his own. He meets and falls in love with an older Hungarian Jewish woman, Klara, who is living in France but with a background story of her own that will not allow her to return to her native country. The story in France is good and enjoyable, but then Levy is called back to Hungary as war is breaking out because his visa is no longer considered to be valid. Klara follows him home in spite of the danger to herself. The story at that point takes on more depth and gravitas.
The war years are an unbelievable story. I cannot imagine the strength of character it had to take to endure such misery. However, persistence and a determined resolve to endure can triumph over overwhelming odds. Andras Levy and some of his friends and family show us how to do that.
I am amazed that this was a debut novel. Orringer gives us some great characters and tells us a another story of WWII - a story that has been told time and again, but this time is told with a fresh, new twist. I loved it!!!