Tuesday, November 27, 2007
GRATITUDE by Joe Kertes (forthcoming Spring 2008)
Joe Kertes captivated me with his opening scene in 1944 Hungary where 16-year-old Lili crouches behind a wardrobe in her parents' bedroom wearing the bridal dress her mother presented her with earlier in the day. As her birthday cake bakes and then burns in the stone oven downstairs, Lili considers the fates of her family--her mother hiding in the field with her younger siblings and her father off showing the new authorities the family's papers.
As German occupation closes in upon Hungary, in the months ahead over half a million Jews will have been murdered. Through terrible circumstance, Lili finds herself welcomed in to the Beck family in Budapest where she waits with the hope of being reunited with her own lost family when the occupation ends in January 1945.
GRATITUDE explores the complexities of the human psyche in its darkest hour and offers a tender portrait of a European empire's last days.
Since our theme at RSGC this year is gratitude, when this fine novel is published by Penguin Canada this spring, all of the staff and students will be reading it.