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The Door (East European Monographs) [Hardcover]

Magda Szabo
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: £33.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Hardcover £33.00  
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Book Description

30 Mar 1995 East European Monographs (Book 407)
This 1987 Hungarian novel in the modernist tradition combines emotionality and literary quality in the story of two women, a writer and her housekeeper.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (30 Mar 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880333049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880333047
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,118,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The Door has been waiting for us for more than sixteen years. It has just opened" (Livres Hebdo)

"In The Door, Hungary's most famous living author, Magda Szabo, gives a rare insight into the precarious relationship between the "lady writer" and her woman who does...The Door is a valuable document of a vital relationship." (Elena Seymenliyska Guardian)

"'Szabó manages to conjure up as many cliffhangers as an Indiana Jones film. The Door is a triumph. Clever, moving, frightening, it deserves to be a bestseller'" (Tibor Fischer Daily Telegraph)

"'No brief summary can do justice to the intelligence and moral complexity of this novel. I picked it up without expectation. I read it with gathering intensity, and a swelling admiration. I finished it, and straightaway started to read it again. It is unusual, original and utterly compelling'" (Scotsman) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A story of the relationship between two women, one encouraging the other to emerge from her inner isolation. Poignantly sad but resolutely uplifting. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magda Szabo - The Door 25 Jan 2006
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
With being monumentally busy with uni work and other commitments, I hadn't read a book for about a month. So, I needed something really special to kick me off again. This book - the story of the relationship between a relatively affluent writer and her elderly, stubborn cleaner - looked as if it might fit the bill. It did. Published almost 20 years ago and only now translated into English, The Door by one of Hungary's most famous writer's, Magda Szabo, is a superb novel.
The book tells the story of the ever-changing relationship between a writer - Magda (yes, there's more than a hint of biography here) - and her domestic help, Emerence. Magda hires Emerence when she, struggling for success and recognition, can cope with all her domestic tasks no longer. A friend reccomends the enigmatic Emerence, who arrives for an interview and departs saying she will let them know as soon as she's attained some references about them. In time Emerence gets back to Magda: yes, she will take the job.
Emerence is a hypnotic enigma, much loved by her neighbours but little known. She has a hidden past, a home she will let no one into, is sparse in her communication but, in the end, is fiercely loyal and warm-hearted. Only when her mistresses husband falls ill does Emerence begin to shed the veil of secrecy she surrounds herself with, and cast light on her sometimes tragic past. This sets up a relationship that binds both women immensely strongly. Emerence demands as much loyalty as she herself gives, and Magda finds herself tested massively. As the novel progresses, and as their relationship gradually shifts and undergoes at least two massive tremors, events are unfolding that will end in tragedy.
This is an absolutely fabulous work of fiction.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An internal door 19 May 2008
The Door by Magda Szabo is a detailed, intimate account of a relationship between two women. Paradoxically, it was the distance between them that generated the intimacy. Presented with behaviour and attitudes she could not identify with or recognise, a young writer tries to analyse her maid's motives, to rationalise her strangeness, to explain her unconventional behaviour.

It is clear from the start that the new maid, Emerence, has had a fundamentally different kind of life from her employer. And, as the relationship develops, details of that life are slowly unearthed to be shared. Memories and reflections unfold like a gently opening flower, each miniscule change adding to what has gone before. Eventually these individually small incremental revelations complete a picture of a life that even the imagination of a writer could not have created.

The Door is rarely a vivid book. Its tone and style are always measured. Details are picked apart and analysed, their consequences examined under a microscope that seeks out motive, honesty and guilt. Paradoxically - perhaps as a consequence of this concentration on the psychological - there is no greats sense of place or setting. In fact, so deeply do the characters enter into the psychological aspects of their lives that they sometimes appear to have their gaze directed inwards on themselves. And eventually, an enduring reaction to the book is its constant consciousness of the distance between people, despite both intimacy and proximity.

The book's style is quite dense. There is very little dialogue, and what is offered is often stunted and awkward. Magda Szabo employs longs long paragraphs, whose content often meanders through different strands of the character's emotions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A door to your heart 21 Dec 2010
Magda Szabo was one of the best writers of the 20th century in any language, much loved in her native Hungary, and The Door is perhaps her most highly regarded novel among work that included fairy tales, plays and teenage fiction. Szabo has a way of creating sympathy for unlovable characters, and here the relationship between the woman writer and her cleaner is not just a brilliant story of a deep and transforming relationship, but a description of the strange way things happen during wars, and the importance of a community for all of us. Szabo's writer peels away the layers of character of her cleaner Emerance almost compulsively and without realising what she's doing. This book reminds me of everything that's beautiful and valuable in life. It's a pity more of Szabo's work isn't translated for a wider audience.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and charismatic novel 9 Nov 2005
By Lili_K
At a first glance the novel seems to be simple: the book is about the relationship between two women: an author and her housekeeper. However, if you stuck strictly to this statement you'd be oversimplifying the book and what it is about. As you go through the pages events of the past in flashes come to the surface, making the end shocking and dramatic.
Magda Szabo is one of the most charismatic writers of our time: her books are highly popular in Hungary and abroad. Her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Her charisma can be strongly felt in her novels as well. reading her books is like putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together: at the end all pieces come to their place and the reader is left breathless with the dramatic and cruel fate the characters are bound to face. It is fate looming over people, unavoidable in Szabo's books, arising from the circumstances and personality of the characters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally draining
The book was beautifully written and very well translated into English, but I personally felt it was an incredibly depressing and emotionally draining book to read.
Published 15 months ago by Jodie Ellis
4.0 out of 5 stars The Door, by Magda Szabo
This book comments on the complexity of human relationships. I found the character of the housekeeper to be more fully and convincingly depicted that that of the lady for whom she... Read more
Published 18 months ago by mrs t m hill
5.0 out of 5 stars An eccentric but heroic character
The story (the life of the author's maid), the cast of characters and the angle from which the action is viewed all make this the most original book that I have read for a long... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Gervase T. M. Shorter
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feeling
This is an unusual and initially intriguing narrative both in style and content. In my view it ultimately doesn't really succeed as a novel and promises more than it delivers. Read more
Published 19 months ago by nomi7777
1.0 out of 5 stars is it just me?
Rather like Sofia, I didn't understand where this novel was going. Beautifully written, the first chapter drew me in, but from then on the only reason I kept reading was to get to... Read more
Published on 21 May 2012 by clare
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing
The Door is beautifully written, with a slow, contemplative pace that slowly builds into a final scene of great force. Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by S. Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars beguiling
I finished reading The Door by Magda Szabo a few days ago and I can't get it out of my mind. Coming to the end made me I feel I'd lost my dearest friends, I am bereft. Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2011 by Ms. S. M. Mcafee
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving account of a life-changing relationship
While The Door is classed as a novel, I am sure there are enough elements of biography in it as to make little difference. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2010 by A Common Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars The Door - a compelling read
I enjoyed this book a lot. It is compelling, rather strange and I found it thought provoking. Try it....
Published on 6 Sep 2009 by L. C. Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal account
I think this book is beautifully written, a life-like account of the unique relationaship between the writer herself and her housekeeper. Read more
Published on 1 Sep 2008 by H. Magyar
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