I can’t remember when I have started re-reading a book before I’ve even finished it, but that is what happened with this book. I was enthralled with the story from page one.
The cast of characters was the author’s family, specifically his mother Aniko Stern. The setting was Hungary, both pre- and post-war. The conflict was constant, external from the Nazis and then the Communists, internal the pressures of being a Jewish family in war-torn Europe. That the family not only survived but thrived was due to Aniko’s indomitable spirit. She may have been small in stature but everything else about her was larger than life.
It wasn’t the happiest of stories. Quite apart from the brutality and oppression of the times, the family dynamics make fascinating reading. The relationships between Aniko and her parents, her first husband and the author’s father, Tibor, and later her second husband, Antal, and his mother were told in a clean cut, no-holds-barred narrative.
The author makes no bones about his reaction to Antal, nor to his eventual journey to Australia in the company of his Uncle Peter, a man who is something of a shadowy figure throughout the story with all his comings and goings but who still manages to leave a large and unpleasant impression.
It has long been my opinion that in every era there are people, women especially, who break the mold and rise above the norm. Aniko Stern was one of those women. In telling her story, often written in lyrical prose, Bob Rich has given us not only a view of history that many of us do not know, but also a message of love and hope.
This is a book I fully recommend.
Victoria Chatham will take you time travelling back to the Regency period of England. At least, reading one of her books will make you feel that you are back there.