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The Door Paperback – 5 Oct 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099470284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099470281
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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)

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Philip Spires on 19 May 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By Andrew Vermes on 21 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lili_K on 9 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
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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