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.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
PÉTER GÁRDOS is an award-winning Hungarian film director. Fever at Dawn is his first novel and is based on the true story of his parents.
ELIZABETH SZÁSZ is a freelance literary translator based in Budapest.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fever at Dawn is the first novel by award-winning Hungarian film and theatre director, Peter Gardos. It is based on the true story of how his parents met just after the Second World War. Miklos has survived Belsen; he has survived (just) the journey by ship to Sweden. At the refugee hospital on Gotland, Dr Lindholm examines his X-rays and gives him the bad news: he will only survive another six or seven months. But Miklos is determined. He does some research and begins his campaign to find a wife: 117 identical letters to young female Hungarian refugees in Sweden. Replies arrive, but Miklos is quickly certain that Lili is the woman he will marry. Convincing her is one thing; convincing the bureaucracy overseeing the refugees is another thing entirely. The fact that this is based on the true story of the author’s parents guarantees the reader a happy ending, but the journey is one well worth making. Gardos describes life in a post-war refugee camp: the scarcity of luxury items; the friendships made between the refugees themselves and with the staff; the restrictions on travel; the creative entertainments (games, concerts, dances) devised to fight boredom; and the elation or heartbreak that news from Hungary could bring. As Miklos sets out to woo his beloved and overcome the bureaucracy’s inflexible rules, his resourcefulness and persistence comes to the fore. The letters and poetry that Miklos write for Lili are truly delightful. This is a slow and steady courtship conducted by letter (that often end chastely with “I send you a long warm handshake”), by telephone and by chaperoned visits. Three little chocolate cakes, some ugly grey wool and a length of material suitable for a winter coat are the tokens of love that Miklos takes with him when he finally goes to meet Lili for the first time. This heart-warming tale, flawlessly translated from the original Hungarian by Elizabeth Szasz, is an uplifting and entertaining read: there is love, there is jealousy and betrayal and there is plenty of humour. There is also some lovely descriptive prose: “The fever, as stealthy as a thief, crept up, stole his confidence, and then vanished in the half-light of dawn” is just one example. Apparently, Gardos has also made a feature film of this story: readers can be sure that in this case the movie will be faithful to the book. Recommended!
ARC kindly provided by Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Review What I fell in love with 'Fever at Dawn' was the strong sense of love and hope that I felt RADIATING and EXPELLING itself from the blurb. I am an absolute SUCKER for romance stories, especially historical ones. Don't even get me started on those based on true stories, and without exception, those full of letters. I really felt like everything was going to line up for me with this novel and I wasn't wrong. I was intrigued with the writing style which the author used, and the way the actual novel was written. It was written in third person narrative and all told from the author's point of view! Due to the novel being based on the letters of his parents, it should have made sense but I originally thought that the novel would probably be told from his parents' perspectives. I thought this was a nice surprise and it really added this sort of wider view of everything. As if you were the sole person this story was taking place for! What I loved, and what originally appealed to me ALOT, was that the story was so full of hope and love in the aftermath of a war that brought hopelessness, hate and loss. World War Two really was horrific and I was actually afraid that the novel would get TOO deep for me and that it would show the troubles and problems and issues that SO MANY NOVELS LIKE THIS DO! I was mentally prepared to emotionally tear myself apart... Yet to my yet ANOTHER lovely surprise, 'Fever at Dawn' wasn't like that at all! It was all about finding after losing and the struggle to find oneself and love again despite all the odds. I HIGHLY recommend this novel to those who are in want of an easy, light read that still captured the very essence of war novels. I thought the pace was good and the way that the author revealed everything surprisingly gentle and patient. You could FEEL the love that the author was not ONLY trying to carry across, but the meaning it held to him through every word, letter and full stop. Despite all, I believe what let me down in the end was the plot. Whilst this was a good story and the romance so heartbreakingly sweet, it didn't really pull me in and EMOTIONALLY connect with me. I wanted this story to wrap me up and pull me in. I wanted to cry and laugh and shiver in anticipation for every single moment. Unfortunately, I think part of the problem WAS the way 'Fever at Dawn' was told: through the author's perspective. It didn't allow me as a reader to connect myself to the characters and experience the story as they were experiencing it. Great translating by Elizabeth Szaz from the Hungarian language on behalf of Peter Gardos! Beautiful prose and grammar! Congratulations to Peter Gardos on publishing a unique and enthralling novel, 'Fever at Dawn'! Rating Plan 1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking. 2 star : Didn't like it, didn't find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me. 3 star : An average book. Wasn't bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea. 4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting. 5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!