ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Péter Gárdos was born in Budapest in 1948. He is a multiple-award-winning film and theatre director.
As a director he has received more than twenty international awards at major film festivals, among them the Jury’s Special Award at the Montreal Film Festival and the Golden Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival.
Based on the true story of his parents, Fever at Dawn is his first novel.
Twenty-five-year-old Holocaust survivor Miklós is being shipped from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to Gotland, Sweden, to receive treatment at the Larbro Hospital. Here he is sentenced to death again: he is diagnosed with tuberculosis and his doctors inform him that he has six months to live. But Miklós decides to wage war on his own fate: he writes 117 letters to 117 Hungarian girls, all of whom are being treated in the Swedish camps, with the aim of eventually choosing a wife from among them.
Two hundred kilometres away, in another Swedish rehabilitation camp, nineteen-year-old Lili receives Miklós’s letter. Since she is bedridden for three weeks due to a serious kidney problem, out of boredom — and curiosity — she decides to write back.
The slightly formal exchange of letters becomes increasingly intimate. When the two finally manage to meet, they fall in love and are determined to marry, despite the odds that are against them.
Based on the original letters written by Miklós and Lili (ninety-six altogether), Fever at Dawn is a tale of passion, striving, and betrayal; true and false friendships; doubt and faith; and the redeeming power of love.
Okay, okay… I have no I idea why and how this one popped into my TBR tower, but it did. And I regret nothing! Although it was mostly a very hard read, and a lot of tears were shed, I am pretty sure I had my reasons to chose it at the first place. Sometime books find you… Right!?
Don’t get me wrong… it is a fictionalized account about the love story of author Peter Gardos’s parents, Miklos and Lili, who are both Holocaust survivors. Good story, moving story, an emotional one. Their real-life story deserves 5+++ stars, the book doesn’t quite measure up. I am not sure whether it was the writing , or something else, but it was a hit-and-miss.
To conclude, the book is not long, and its form is episodic, told in an often-tongue-in-cheek manner, but it has stayed with me in the several weeks since my reading. I particularly recommend it to readers who enjoyed The Hare with Amber Eyes. This book had promise but overall it fell flat for me. While Fever at Dawn lacks emotion and tension it is a quiet memoir and a nice way for the author to preserve and honour a part of his parents’ history.