Anewly translated novel from the great rediscovered Hungarian writer: a tautly suspenseful story of unrequited love and its still vivid consequences twenty years later.
What is it to be in love with a pathological liar and fantasist? Esther is, and has been for the more than two decades since Lajos disappeared from her life. Now all these years later, Lajos is returning, and the news brings both panic and excitement. While no longer young and thoroughly skeptical about Lajos, Esther still remembers how incredibly alive she felt when he was around. His presence bewitches everyone, and the greatest part of his charm—and his danger—lies in the deftness with which he wields that delicate power. Friends rally round protectively, but Lajos’s arrival begins a day of high theater that will leave Esther’s life dramatically changed again.
In this spellbinding fourth novel to be published posthumously in English (after The Rebels), M rai (1900 1989) weaves a passionate tale about a woman whose chance at love is very nearly stolen from her. Harbored peaceably at her family home in middle age with a cousin as her only companion after a lifelong disappointment in love, Esther receives a telegram from her former flame, Lajos, a masterful con artist who had declared his love for Esther, but then married her younger sister, Vilma. Lajos is locally beloved and reviled, and his dazzling return with his two grown children by Vilma (who has since died) and a mysterious other woman and her son to whom he is indebted in tow raises dark suspicions in Esther and her relatives. M rai's characterization of Lajos through the eyes of skeptical, still smitten Esther is deliciously portentous; the deceptions woven around these characters introduce a sharp sliver of danger into the narrative, especially as Esther's reliability is called into question. M rai is a fascinating writer readers of English will want more of.