I want everyone I know to read this book.
The story is riveting and covers the WWII experience from a different perspective. Orringer is a brilliant writer and thorough researcher.
The book begins in 1937 when András Lévi, a Hungarian jew is preparing to leave for Paris to study architecture school on a scholarship. On his last night in Budapest his brother Tibor takes him to the opera. The first half of the book is about life in Paris before the war. András meets and falls in love with Klara, a beautiful older Hungarian with a secret in exile in Paris. He is successful in his studies and enjoys all that Paris and university has to offer. Of course, we all know what is coming. When he is required to return to Budapest to renew his visa, Klara insists on returning with him, despite danger to herself, and it turns out, to her family. Once there, he is not allowed to return to Paris.
The second half covers the war experience in Hungary. András, Tibor and their younger brother Matyás are sent to forced labor camp while the rest of their families struggle to get by in Budapest and in the countryside.
My father was about 6 years younger than András, during this time in school in Budapest. The frequent little references to language and food and these beautiful cities resonated with my experience. Reading ‘The Invisible Bridge’ gave me some insight and raised questions about the experiences of my father and his family in Hungary at that time. Unfortunately as is often the case, when we find the questions for our parents they are no longer around to answer them. At the end of the book, a teenage granddaughter is asking her grandparents who are still alive. I’m glad she did.
If you haven’t read this yet, go get it. Great insight into the WWII experience in Hungary. And a good story.