In this improbably joyous novel about two recovering concentration camp survivors, love is the best medicine.
July 1945. Miklos is a twenty-five-year-old Hungarian who has survived the camps and has been brought to Sweden to convalesce. His doctor has just given him a death sentence — his lungs are filled with fluid and in six months he will be gone. But Miklos has other plans. He didn't survive the war only to drown from within, and so he wages war on his own fate. He acquires the names of the 117 Hungarian women also recovering in Sweden, and he writes a letter to each of them in his beautiful cursive hand. One of these women, he is sure, will become his wife. In another part of the country, Lili reads his letter and decides to write back. For the next few months, the two engage in a funny, absurd, hopeful epistolary dance. Eventually, they find a way to meet. Based on the true story of Péter Gárdos's parents, and drawn from their letters, Fever at Dawn is a vibrant, ribald, and unforgettable tale, showing the death-defying power of the human will to live and to love.
My Review of Fever at Dawn
Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos is the tender sweet story of 2 young Hungarian Jewish survivors who meet and fall in love through a series of letters. Miklos and Lili are in Sweden after the war convalescing at separate rehab hospitals. Lili is fighting problems with her kidneys and Miklos is given only months to live due to an acute case of TB. Determined to beat the odds and begin a new life Miklos finds names and addresses of convalescing Hungarian women from his home town of Debrecen and sets about writing letters to 117 of them in hopes of finding true love and a happily ever after. Nine women respond, but Miklos singles out Lili and through months of letter writing and phone calls their love story begins. However, a future together looks bleak with grim predictions of Miklos’s health and opposition of doctors and friends, but ever determined Miklos finds a way for him and Lili to be together and have the future they both desire and deserve.
Fever at Dawn was a sweet delight. I liked the story being told through the eyes of the son having read his parents letters many decades later. As a reader I cheered for every victory that Miklos and Lili achieved in order to be together. It would have been so easy for them to have given up and given in to Miklos’s dire diagnoses. But determination was the letter of the day and Miklos and Lili were determined to have their future.
Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos is a kind and gentle story where love is determined to win the day. Sweet and tender told through the eyes of the son, Fever at Dawn is a must read story for everyone who likes stories where courage and resolve win despite the odds.
I want to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advanced copy of Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos via NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
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