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A kékezüst hölgy

Judit Fenákel: A kékezüst hölgy (Working Title „three lives“)

Novel, 130 pages (Hungary, 2005)

The first-person narrator is a journalist and teacher. Out of friendship, she attends the funeral of Olga, the mother of her former pupil Kamilla. This family poses riddles for the narrator; they are on her mind, and she invents questions about Olga, who since has died.

Olga, Kamilla’s mother, loses her Jewish parents in the last days of the war. The father was a pharmacist. The sixteen-year-old Olga makes her way from the concentration camp home to Budapest, where relatives and acquaintances look after her. Among these is the family of physicians Masánsky, whose only son, Tibor, has just finished his medical education. The young, shy, and somewhat snobbish physician, scion of the distinguished family Masánsky, visits Olga every day in the orphanage and sees that she attends school and studies foreign languages. Eventually, he falls in love with her. In spite of the vehement protests from his Christian family, he marries the prematurely aged girl, who is prepared to sacrifice everything for this marriage. Olga converts to Catholicism. She subjugates herself to her husband’s wishes without opposition. She lives for twenty years with Tibor in complete self-abandonment, yet she is very happy. Kamilla is the child of this marriage.

When Tibor suddenly dies, Olga, who until now has been solely a mother and housewife, is left alone with her daughter. She burns all bridges behind her and desires to live her own life.

It turns out that Olga is a highly intelligent women who surprisingly makes a career for herself on the basis of her earlier forced role as an ideal housewife. She first takes a position at a Venetian hotel. With the money she has earned she returns to Hungary and opens a boarding house. Her culinary skills stand her in good stead.

For a long time she has nothing to do with men, but over the years, some approach her. She publicizes her cooking skills, receives recognition in the media, and earns a considerable amount of money. Olga is one of the first women in Hungary to promote natural foods.

In an imaginary interview, the narrator tells of the metamorphosis of this woman after spending half her life in the home.

Commentary on the novel:

“Judit Fenákel’s books speak for themselves. One does not need to point out their worth to the educated reader.” —Imre Kertész

Kritiken / Reviews:

Angyalsz?rny (HU)

More works of this writer:

Lili utazásai (working title: "Lili's Travels")
Az igazi nagy nö (working title: "A Woman of the World")
Az elhallgatás (working title: "The Silence")
Levélária (Working Title "They loved the opera")
Magántörténet (working title: "The Temptation")
A fénykép hatoldala (working title: "Backside of the Picture")

<-- Judit Fenákel