Author: Magda Szabo
Summary: In prewar Budapest, the Elekes, Held and Biro families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined, their four children inseparable. Then, in 1944, during the German occupation, all their hopes and dreams for the future are shattered. Lives are lost. And those who survive are forever changed. They are haunted, not only by their own guilt and sorrow, but by their longing to return to their former lives on Katalin Street.
Adjectives that describe this novel: introspective, poignant, and bleak
Favorite quotes from Katalin Street:
There were several ornaments and objects from her former home too, but none of them conjured up the magic he had been hoping for. Iren's new abode had turned out to be nothing like the one in Katalin Street, and even here he was haunted by the sense of being somewhere else. The marriage to Iren had showed him that she yearned and pined for Katalin Street just as much as he did, that she had not found it, and neither had her parents, who were locked in the same hopeless quest to recover it ... This tyranny of somewhere else was a cruel one. It stopped Balint from seeing both the reality that existed and what he would have liked that reality to be.
The people who were with me on that day were imprinted on my memory--some of them permanently, some for many years afterward--exactly as they were at the time...
It was the first time in my life that I had an inkling that the dead are not dead but continue living in this world, in one form or another, indestructibly...
It is not only facts that are irreversible, our past reactions and feelings are too. One can neither relive them not alter them.
This isn't exactly a happy read, but it is an interesting and thoughtful one. (It's also not very long.) I like reading about Europe, and World War II, and the time period following it during the Soviet occupation; I think it's important for all of us to know and remember what those times were like for the people who had to endure them. So even though this novel is a little depressing and sad...