This is a historical book. The story is set in Hungary and the scene is laid in a village close to the Maros. The sharp, cracked sound of the Elevation bell breaks the silence of the summer morning. The good Pater Bonifacius is saying Mass: he, at any rate, is astir and busy with his day’s work and obligations. Surely it is strange that at so late an hour in mid-September, with the maize waiting to be gathered in, the population of Marosfalva should be still absent from the fields! Hej ! But, stranger, what would you ? Such a day is-this Fourteenth of September. What ? You did not know it? The Fourteenth of September, the ugliest, blackest, most God forsaken day in the whole year! What kind of a stranger are you if you do not know that. On this hideous day all the finest lads in the village are taken away to be made into soldiers by the abominable Government? Three years! Why, the lad is a mere child when he goes-one-and-twenty on his last birthday, bless him! still wanting a mother’s care of his stomach, and a father’s heavy stick across his back from time to time to keep him from too much love-making.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Five years earlier, Elsa promised her sweetheart Andor to wait for him when he went off to three years of mandatory military service. When he did not return, and when inquiry showed his name on the list of dead from an outbreak of cholera in his unit, Elsa lost hope. Pressured by her mother to accept the hand of a wealthy but autocratic man, she does so to bring comfort to her family if not happiness to herself. On the morning of her farewell to maidenhood feast, Andor returns.
Baroness Orczy writes of her homeland with passion, tenderness, and understanding. She gives insight not only into Hungarian customs and culture, but also into the mindsets and perspectives of her people. When she must deal with subjects like anti-semitism and parental brutality she neither condones nor condemns them, she simply paints an accurate but compassionate picture of the hard realities of that time and place. This is a beautifully written book.