Friday, 15 April 2016

Fever At Dawn by Peter Gardos

review by Maryom

Having survived the horrors of Belsen concentration camp, Miklos, a Hungarian Jew, finds himself shipped to Sweden to recuperate. Unfortunately his doctor there has bad news - Miklos's lungs are permanently damaged and he only has about six months to live. Despite this, Miklos is determined to embrace life, and find a wife. With this end in view, he gets hold of the addresses of any women from his old home in Hungary, who like him have been rescued and are now being nursed back to health - and he writes to them all, 117 of them! Several reply, but one in particular, Lili, captures his heart. Confined to their separate hospital camps, the two have to be content with a long-distance postage romance, but Miklos is determined to find his way round the rules and restrictions, and not only meet, but marry.

The story of Miklos and LIli is a true one; that of the author's parents. So, in part, the reader knows from the beginning how the story will end, and the style of writing somehow constantly reminded of this. It shouldn't really matter, because, after all, read a book a second, or third, time and you will know how it ends, but somehow this time I found it a little off-putting. For the most part, I didn't find myself absorbed enough in the story. Sometimes the writing grabbed me enough to forget the ending, others it didn't.
The author is a film director and I began to wonder if this influenced his writing style. Descriptions of place, people and emotions are kept to a minimum, and dialogue and the letters themselves are allowed to carry the story.
Although it didn't grab me as a novel, it has a strong story line and I can see it making a good film.

Maryom's review - 3.5 stars
Publisher - Doubleday
Genre - adult, historical fiction

1 comment:

  1. Sounds in this case as though the influence of the author's career might have made the difference as to whether it held your attention, as opposed to the simple knowing the end factor. I wouldn't mind seeing the film of this so I'll wait and see what happens (guessing if he's a director it'll likely happen).