An Exclusive Love: A Memoir

by Johanna Adorján (author), Anthea Bell (translator) (WW Norton & Company) ISBN 978-0-393-0-80018

 

The book opens ominously: “On 13 October 1991 my grandparents killed themselves.”

 

Quite a depressing introduction, but one that sets the scene of a memoir of a granddaughter trying to discover her true identity by analysing the events that led to her grandparents’ suicide during her childhood.

 

Adorján, the granddaughter,  interviews family members and friends to try to piece together the events that led to that fateful day. The story delves into the atrocities of 1956 when the holocaust affected the Hungarian Jews, and later follows the couple as they become refugees in Denmark.

 

Only on Johanna’s grandfather’s 77th birthday does he tell her about his Judaism for the first time, which is confusing as she has never been exposed to this aspect of her culture.

 

This thought-provoking book has an element of fiction that runs through it – what would their last day have been like? What would they have done to prepare themselves to take their own lives?  And why did they choose this end? A worthwhile read.

 

Amanda Blankfield

4/5

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