14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Funny and moving-and you learn some Hungarian!, 22 Aug. 2013
Saying that this book is primarily about elderly Hungarians probably limits its appeal- but it is the most interesting and entertaining book about elderly Hungarians that you could possibly imagine. Marina- the focus of the book- is their granddaughter and is trying to navigate their world and that of the minor public school that she has pushed hard to attend and is now in a turmoil of anxiety, uncertainty and regret about. The book perfectly captures that sense of teenage grandiosity and intensity combined with complete misreading of situations and a catastrophic imagination, familiar to many from their own teenage years. The relationship between Marina and her (English) mother is detailed with heart breaking delicacy. There is a stomach-knotting anxiety that runs through the book, and through the reader- but only because you desperate want things to go well and would love to leap into the book and sort the various characters out of their messes and misreadings. This is a really enjoyable read - and you learn about the Austro- Hungarian empire- what more could you ask for?