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.
Beatrice Desmond, 55, lives on a remote farm nestled in a deep hollow in southern West Virginia. A native of Boston and a graduate of an Ivy League college, Beatrice is a fish out of water in Seneca County; although she maintains contact with certain friends and family, too often, Beatrice retreats into her work as a translator and editor, or into the bottle of Jack Daniel’s she maintains nearby. Fate finally intervenes, requiring Beatrice to befriend and shelter Clara, an abused teenager, and accept the job of ghostwriting the memoir of her dashing but enigmatic neighbor, Tanner Fordyce. Gradually, Beatrice finds her resolute independence and crusty reserve soften, her carefully constructed barriers fall, and her guarded and self-protective nature moderates, as she explores the renewed pleasures of emotional involvement. At times sad, at times hilarious, and always quirky, Hillwilla celebrates the glories of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, the healing power derived from genuine connections with others, and the potential for reinventing ourselves—at any age.
My Review of Hillwilla
Hillwilla by Melanie Forde is the story of Beatrice Desmond, an eccentric 55 year old woman who despite humble beginnings became an Ivy League graduate and now works as an editor and translator on a farm in rural West Virginia. Despite her accomplishments Beatrice relishes her contented quiet life in Seneca County with just the company of her faithful dog Ralph and a variety of contrary llamas she attends to daily. But Beatrice’s’ private life is about to change as Tanner, her handsome neighbor, not only asks her assistance in writing his autobiography, but also to assist a wayward, maltreated teen by the name of Clara. Independent and private, Beatrice feels aggrieved by the situation and at first is stubborn and disgruntled. But with the passage of time Beatrice sees something of herself in Clara and the once self-reliant and headstrong Beatrice finds herself softening towards the girl. Sometimes touching, sometimes jocular, Hillwilla has something for everyone who enjoys a heartwarming and uniquely different story.
This is not the usual type of story I read, but I felt intrigued by the novel’s description. Hillwilla was agreeable as it had quaint old fashioned characters. It took a little while for me to get into the rhythm of the book, but its characters were creative and I enjoyed watching them grow and develop. As a reader if you like stories that have unconventional and engrossing characters Hillwilla may just be the novel for you.
I want to thank Mountain Lake Press via NetGalley for a free advanced copy of Hillwilla by Melanie Forde for a fair and honest review.
For Linnet, owner of a Bed and Breakfast in Mountain Springs, Pennsylvania, life has been a bit complicated lately. Hundreds of snow geese have died overnight in the dam near the B&B, sparking a media frenzy, threatening the tourist season, and bringing her estranged sister, Myna, to town. If that isn't enough, the women's father has been charged with investigating the incident. But when a younger expert is brought in to replace him on the case and then turns up dead on Linnet's B&B’s property, their father becomes the primary suspect. As the investigation unfolds, the sisters will have to confront each other, their hidden past, and a side of Mountain Springs not seen before.
Karen Katchur has written a thrilling novel of sisters and the secrets that bind them that is sure to appeal to readers of her acclaimed first novel, The Secrets of Lake Road.
My Review of The Sisters of Blue Mountain
The town of Mountain Springs is an idyllic little hamlet best known for the yearly migration of its beloved Snow Geese. Many guests arrive in the spring to stay at the Snow Goose, a local B&B, to watch for the birds’ seasonal movement north. But this year a strange phenomenon has happened leaving a large number of the geese dead, practically falling from the sky. Add a dam full of dead fish, reporters scrambling for a story, and Linnet the co-owner and operator of the Snow Goose finds herself with empty rooms as tourists leave town and locals begin to panic. Myna, Linnet’s estranged sister, decides to come home to help her sister and father, a former professor and ornithologist, deal with the current crisis. But tensions rise between the sisters as secrets buried long ago come back to haunt them. When a reporter shows up asking questions about his past and a local college professor is found murdered on the B&B property the emotional strain becomes too much for the sisters and secrets hidden long ago eventually come to light. Linnet and Myna are finally forced to confront their past and let the truth fall where it may.
The Sisters of Blue Mountain is a great read for anyone who likes a good mystery, but also matters of the heart. The characters that Karen Katchur created in this novel are real and honest. The strain between the sisters, Linnet and Myna is palpable. Myna, although a grown woman, is still the lost little girl afraid to commit and desperate to have her sister’s love and approval. Linnet is fierce in protecting her son and father, but gives little compassion and leeway to her sister. The secret they share has left a large crack in their relationship and only the truth coming to light can repair the damage. The father is loving towards both his daughters, but his daily struggle with the ups and downs of dementia is painful to watch. I kept turning the pages wanting to know why the strange phenomena of the geese and fish occurred as well as the secret the girls had buried long ago. The author skillfully ties it all together at the end and leaves the reader with no secrets but hope for the sisters’ broken relationship.
The Sisters of Blue Mountain by Karen Katchur is a well spun mystery with suspense and tension to keep the pages turning to the very end. A quick read with some surprises that will not leave you disappointed. I want to thank St Martin’s Press, Thomas Dunne Books for an advanced copy of The Sisters of Blue Mountain for a fair and honest review.
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