The Door by Magda Szabó (tr. Len Rix)

a nutshell: unimaginably hypnotic, this book is an intricate tapestry of how two women – thoroughly polarised by way of thought and background – are drawn together by an inextricable platonic love in a Hungarian village

a line: “the simple, rational garb of terminal illness had translated her into an aristocrat”

an image: it’s near-impossible to isolate one striking image among so many, but perhaps I’d pick one where Emerence recalls a childhood bond with a vulnerable heifer, which impels the animal to leap off a carriage onto the train tracks as it departs – an incredibly stirring passage

a thought: simple gestures of a brave old woman’s boundless love / wounded pride tore me up emotionally more than once – one’s sense of self-importance is heavily scrutinised throughout the novel; I can’t recommend the book enough

a fact: in 1949 Szabó won one of Hungary’s most prestigious literary prizes, the Baumgarten, but it was rescinded the same day as she was declared an ‘enemy of the people’ by the Communist Party

 

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