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Despite the deeply personal subject matter, the author never veers into sentimentality or hero-worship. There is deep respect and love for her American correspondent parents, but no attempt to explain or condone their reckless flaunting of communist rules. This is where Laurel Merlington’s narration comes into its own. While Marton is scrupulously careful in connecting the personal to the political and withholds judgement in the face of so many acts of betrayal, Merlington’s voice is of someone recovering from a broken heart. She beautifully conveys a sense of loss at being faced with the previously unknown heroism and suffering of her recently dead parents. Always dignified, her measured tone can't hide the turmoil of a child orphaned by the state and the adult Marton’s sense of helplessness in recollecting her pain and confusion as a child.
So the act of historical research becomes a series of revelations about her family, and Marton becomes the latest in a long line to spy on her parents. Some of the more heart-stopping moments are to do with the daughter's discoveries about her parents' inner lives, and in particular that of her father. In life, his formal reserve and dashing appeal gave him all the mystery of an unreachable double agent, but through his daughter’s investigation of his imprisonment and torture, he becomes closer to her than ever before: "So now I know if my father did not express his feelings for us it was because they were too strong, not too weak. How ironic that the deepest proof of his love for us was provided by an AVO informer." In delivering this line, and many others hidden like landlines amongst secret state documents, Laurel Merlington is the perfect choice to narrate this tale. Dafydd Phillips
Marton relates her own eyewitness account of her mother's and father's arrests and the terrible separation that followed. There were things she didn't want to know about and disappointments she didn't want to revisit. But as she dug deeper into their lives, she found the truth about her parents' lives - and her own.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jane on 04-09-10
Couldn't stop listening
I could not stop listening to this book, in which I learned so much about the history of Hungary the country and the fate of the people, in addition to the family's story. The only reason this isn't a five-star rating is that the narrator, who does beautifully in English, and catches the emotion of the story, mispronounces almost every word that is in a foreign language, mostly German or French (I can't judge her Hungarian pronunciation). Sadly,this is a disservice to the work, especially as it portrays types of people who were accustomed to speaking and working in multiple languages.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful