A young girl’s memories of her mother and the painful discoveries of the complexities of life is what makes this enchanting books a must-read
Emylia Hall is one of ELLE magazine’s ‘most anticipated debut novelists’ of this year. Let’s us see what is so enchanting about her book.
The epigraph by WB Yeats sets the mood perfectly for this story. “When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;”We begin in London where Elizabeth Lowe, a worker in an art gallery prepares herself for a visit from her father. From her thoughts, we come to know that the visit is a highly unexpected one and reveal the extremely formal relationship the two share.
He brings along with him a parcel which threatens to disturb the rather drab life that Elizabeth was leading. The parcel was from her mother with whom her relationship was quite strained. But now that her mother is dead, she longs for closure. Once she opens the parcel, Erzi as her mother called her, gets to know her mother all over again. The scrapbook contains memories of seven glorious summers of her childhood spent in the idyllic countryside of Hungary, tightrope walking between her flighty mother, and a reticent father, apart from being enamoured by a vivacious artist.
Sixteen years after separating from her mother, Beth finds it all too difficult to revisit the past. All these years she had only attached pain and denial with these memories.It is not just a coming-of-age story of Beth, it is also a love story. One can’t help but fall in love with the unspoilt world of rural Hungary and stringing along with it is a story of the unique love between a parent and a child.
Titled aptly, the book that Beth is reading contains snapshots of happy times spent with her mother in a Hungary. There the hills were bursting with rhododendrons and there were the mustard painted houses and the languid verandas and crooked-tiled roofs of Villa Serena where all her memories took birth. So we know what Beth felt each of the summers that she spent there. “Sometimes if you don’t go backwards, you can’t move forwards,” says Marika and this is how Beth gets back the childhood she had thought she had lost trying to revive the failed relationship of her parents.Hall’s writing is beautifully evocative. Earnest Hemingway talked about creating living people and not characters and by the looks of it Hall believes in it too. But this is not a story with a happy ending if you think it is, however. instead, there is a sense of loss, and wistfulness.
Am a dreamer, writer and traveller. Still trying to find my niche but what counts is being able to give wings to my imagination.