Start reading Hungarian Dances on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Hungarian Dances [Kindle Edition]

Jessica Duchen
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £19.99
Kindle Price: £4.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £15.00 (75%)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
This price was set by the publisher
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £4.99  
Hardcover £19.99  
Paperback --  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Book Description

Do you ever wish that you could be someone else? Just step out of your life and wake up as someone new? Karina's life was once mapped out for her -- she was meant to follow in the footsteps of her Hungarian grandmother, a world-famous violinist. Instead, she's a teacher, a mum and wife to Julian, a very English husband who's not always in step with her. But when disaster befalls her best friend, Karina feels forced to question the very foundations of her existence. Encouraged by a chance encounter with a like-minded musician, she begins to delve into her grandmother's Gypsy past, and to discover the secrets of her Hungarian family history. Life will never be the same again. Like most people, Karina isn't sure the life she chose was the right one. But she is willing to take drastic steps to change it.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Page of Start over
This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

Product Description


'After having read Rites of Spring, I am now equally thrilled by Hungarian Dances. Jessica Duchen is a very gifted storyteller; her characters are sensitively portrayed. She has observed "Hungarianness" very well indeed. And her understanding of the tragedy and sufferings of the Gypsy people - that is not just history, but very much a problem of our time - gives this book an even more profound meaning.' (Andrs Schiff)

'Jessica Duchen's debut novel is captivating, imaginative and fascinating. As a musician and a mother, I recognized many of the scenarios and found the questions that were posed very poignant, both from a musical and personal perspective. The pace builds powerfully to a dramatic and ultimately very moving conclusion. Completely gripping!' (Tasmin Little on RITES OF SPRING)

'Adam and Sasha appear to have the perfect life - good jobs, a nice home, money and three perfect children. But as their marriage begins to unravel, their ballet-crazy daughter starts staving herself - and her parents are too preoccupied to notice. A haunting, heartbreaking novel.' (Closer on RITES OF SPRING)

'The pages of Hungarian Dances just kept turning! Like all the best

novels, it asks unexpected and compelling questions. It's a book for

anyone with an interest in how history leaves its mark on people and how

they in turn come to live with its scars.'

(Martin Davies, author of The Conjuror's Bird)

'Highly recommended' (Classical Music Magazine)

'A sensitive and thought-provoking novel that will resonate all the more for those with musical leanings.' (Femke Colborne, MUSO on RITES OF SPRING)

'Duchen skilfully balances the conventions of the genre with the authority of a writer who really knows her subject. ALICIA's GIFT is a wonderful read. But make sure you keep the Kleenex handy when you tackle it.' (Music Teacher on Alicia's Gift)

''It really is difficult to put down . . . It's Duchen's compassionate human observations which carries her through . . .Those in the musical world will relish sentences such as 'orchestras are full of sheep eating shit'; those outside it will marvel at its fragility and volatility. And everyone will be encouraged to ponder just how far the search to 'find oneself' is selfish, unselfish or, impossibly and painfully, in a timeless dislocation somewhere between the two.' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Jessica Duchen writes about families, the arts and their sometimes devastating combination with such skill and passion that her books are unputdownable. It is very rarely that I find a new writer whose work I love so much.' (Katie Fforde)

'This is a very well written study of the problem of being and having a child prodigy.... it's a gripping read and it's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of wanting Alicia to succeed... I enjoyed this book a lot' (Muso on Alicia's Gift)

'Like a stuffed palacsinta pancake, Duchen's novel of music and memory bulges with fruity treats...' (Independent)

'I suggest you give Hungarian Dances a whirl.' (South China Morning Post)

Book Description

The thoughtful and compelling issues-based third novel from an author who has already gained a loyal fanbase. HUNGARIAN DANCES is a love story, a mystery and a tale of extraordinary personal transformation.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1926 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (24 July 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045OW4L0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #235,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

"Enthralling...Jessica writes with an unpredictable and original voice and a dazzling perceptiveness" JOANNA LUMLEY on SONGS OF TRIUMPHANT LOVE.

Jessica is a versatile wordsmith with a musical bias. Her output includes novels, biographies, plays, words&music projects, poetry for musical setting, music journalism and more. Her writing regularly appears in The Independent, BBC Music Magazine and Opera News, among other publications, and her music blog "JDCMB",, has attracted more than 1.5m readers.

Jessica and her musician colleagues are performing concert versions of her novels HUNGARIAN DANCES and ALICIA'S GIFT through 2013 and her plays respectively about Wagner and Messiaen are due for more performances. Please see EVENTS list below, or visit for full listings.

Her novels focus on the cross-currents between family generations, with music a recurring theme. All are now additionally available in e-book format.

Jessica's biographies of the composers Gabriel Fauré and Erich Wolfgang Korngold for Phaidon's 20th Century Composers series have met with wide acclaim.

Watch an extract from BBC TV's SACRED MUSIC series in which Jessica talks about Fauré's Requiem:

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 10 Dec. 2008
Hungarian Dances is a marvellous, intelligent, thought-provoking meditation upon the human condition; it explores the themes of identity, whether national or sexual, of the possibilities of love, of betrayal, and of the deep meaning of music, whilst carrying you along on a beautifully-crafted story that is utterly absorbing. It may be a cliché to say "I couldn't put this book down", but in my case it is a quite literal statement of fact. I read it throughout the night despite having several urgent matters to attend to and desperately needing my sleep! (Warning: clear your diary before picking this up!)

This is a wonderfully-written book; nothing in the prose jarred, nothing was extraneous. Don't let the slightly girly cover put you off - this is seriously good literature. As a professional opera singer, I am used to hurling any books which mention classical music at the wall in irritation; this one, with its accurate portrayals of the frustrations, disappointments, and sublime joys of music-making, resonated strongly in my soul.

If you like your novels to make you think, without being overtly pushed to do so, this is not to be missed. Glorious!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXHILARATING! 23 April 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this a most exciting and gratifying book for the plot as well as for its treatment of two passions of mine: music and Budapest. Jessica Duchen is well known as a writer on music and as a very successful novelist. She also has one of the best-run blogs on the net: you will find a lot about this book there, including photos of places in Budapest described in the book. You can also make the acquaintance of her cat Solti!
Like all good communicators, Jessica Duchen wears her learning lightly and writes in a limpid, flowing style which makes one want to keep reading. She manages to keep several plots going at once without ever losing the reader and always judges perfectly the right moment to move on so as to maintain suspense.
She has a vivid eye for detail and one easily empathizes with the characters: the scene in the run-down Budapest café where the gypsy father of Mimi, whom she wants to invite to her concert at the Liszt Academy, refuses furiously from the humiliation he feels at being dirty and unwashed and therefore unworthy of going to such a place is quite heartbreaking.
This book could be classed as "popular fiction", "a good read", "a real page-turner" but I think this would be to underestimate such a well-crafted and profound novel. Highly recommended. A paperback version is now available.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't want it to end! 5 Aug. 2008
This story gripped from the first page to the last. Although the central family in the story is Hungarian and musical, you don't need to be either to get totally caught up in their story as tumultous events, personal and political, overtake them. The narrative sweeps you along at a cracking pace that never lets up despite ranging back and forth between past and present. Jessica Duchen has created a hugely rich and appealing tapestry of characters, and her deftly interwoven sub-plots are filled with astute observations and wry insights about relationships and human behaviour. If the sign of a good book is that you don't want it to end, I was utterly bereft when it had finished.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing to freedom 21 May 2008
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Jessica Dutchen has written her best book yet, the story of Karina, a violinist, mother, wife and lover, and the chasms in her life and background - an immigrants' child married to Julian from the manor, her parents Denes and Erszebet fleeing oppression and their own country, her grandmother Mimi a brilliant violinist from the despised Roma - that only love and music can even hope to cross.

Some books will open your eyes to another world - this one is even more generous. The story takes us from the inequities of pre-war Budapest, the glitter of war-time New York, and the brutalities of post-war communist Hungary to a London train crash and the cynical dynamics of 21st century public transport policy.

Reading it the first time, I just wanted to keep turning the pages because I was so involved with the characters and the story. Re-reading the last few chapters to write this, I found myself sucked in once again, but more able to appreciate how the story works as well as it does because it too leaps these chasms, and takes us with it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure pleasure! 5 Aug. 2008
Jesssica Duchen's third novel is an enchanting read. The characters are so vibrant and touching, they became friends I was sorry to part with. She has an extraordinary capacity to make distant times and places come alive. I was fascinated by the glimpse of Hungarian gypsy life before the war as well as Hungary during the post-war years, what people are capable of when they have a little power. There is also the theme of exile and transformation. But the heart of the novel is very much set in England, an interwoven story of four generations including the predicaments of modern marriage, told with the author's characteristic wry humour and compassionate wisdom. "We're the sum total of our own stories", one character says - but when these stories are half-truths told to ourselves and others, they cast a spell on the present - and this is partly what the novel is about, an unveiling process that enables new possibilities. It's wonderful!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Sprinkling of Paprika....
I read this at the behest of my wife who is Hungarian and as an accurate description of Hungarian cultural attitudes, it is quite good. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Dean Baker
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, let down by the last few chapters
I loved this book until almost the end. Jessica Duchen writes brilliantly about music and families, Hungary and Britain. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mrs. C. Gough
4.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding book
I bought this book because I like the author's classical music blogs. I was at first wary of buying a book written by a critic/bloggist/twitterati but it turns out Jessica Duchen... Read more
Published on 21 Oct. 2011 by mimoblade
4.0 out of 5 stars Adultery and Eastern European Passion
An in many ways excellent tale of a Hungarian emigre family of musicians living in London. Karina has given up her musical career to become the wife of a sweet but slightly dull... Read more
Published on 5 Sept. 2011 by Kate Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Hungarian Dances
I bought Hungarian Dances because I love literary novels about music and culture, and most of all because I love Hungary. Read more
Published on 25 Feb. 2011 by Dan Holloway
4.0 out of 5 stars good
Hungarian dances follows other books i have read of Jessicas. I think she is one of the best authors i have read. Like others, i found this absorbing, intriguing. Read more
Published on 8 Feb. 2011 by itchybeard
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic story, beautifully constructed
This book was a great read and I found impossible to put it down until I finished it!

The stories are beatifully constructed and held together. Read more
Published on 21 Feb. 2010 by A. Mongiardino
4.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly very good! (not a chick lit!)
I picked this book up because I was going on holiday to Budapest and wanted to read a novel about Hungary (surprisingly difficult to find novels set in Hungary and written in... Read more
Published on 28 Aug. 2009 by J. Mellor
5.0 out of 5 stars Hungarian Dances Rocks
A really good read. I enjoyed Hungarian Dances very much -and I admired it enormously too. Jessica Duchen brings Hungary vividly alive for the English reader,which is a great and... Read more
Published on 8 Sept. 2008 by Mary Hamer
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic gripping story!
I loved Hungarian Dances. I felt I knew the characters so so well and at the end I wanted to phone them up! Ms. Duchen has a wonderful ability of bringing fiction to life. Read more
Published on 25 Aug. 2008 by T. Saiten
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category