I've chosen an amazing first novel for this week's Teaser Tuesday. There's a lot to recommend in young Julie Orringer's writing--a love story set in Budapest and Paris in the late 1930s as Europe goes to war, a tale of three brothers who stood by each other no matter what, and a family's determination to survive and remain together despite numerous attempts to destroy it. This story rings true because it is based on the experiences of Orringer's Jewish-Hungarian grandparents and great aunts and uncles.
Teaser Tuesday is a book sharing meme hosted by Mz B at Should be Reading . All book lovers are welcome to play. The rules are simple: open your current read to a random page; share two teaser sentences from that page, being careful not to include any spoilers; share the title, author and--if you like--a brief synopsis of the story so that other players can decide if they want to read your book; and post your link in the comments on Miz B's webpage.
The Invisible Bridge
by Julie Orringer
Andras Levi: "For years now, he understood at last, he'd had to cultivate the habit of blind hope. It had become as natural to him as breathing. It had taken him from Konyar to Budapest to Paris. . .from the Carpathian winter to Forget-Me-Not Street in the Erzsebetvaros. It was the inevitable by-product of love, the clear and potent distillate of fatherhood." p. 478
Synopsis from the book cover: "Paris, 1937, Andras Levi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern. He falls into a complicated relationship with the letter's recipient, a 30+ year old ballet teacher and Jewish-Hungarian who had fled to Paris almost 20 years ago to escape prosecution for a crime she did not commit. Meanwhile Andras' older brother takes up medical studies in Modena, Italy and his younger brother leaves school in Hungary and goes on stage. Europe's unfolding tragedy sends each of the brothers' lives into terrifying uncertainty. At the end of Andras' second summer in Paris, all Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war. The brothers return to Hungary to hopefully safeguard their families and are drawn into the war as forced laborers using the skills they have been learning in school."
A special bonus of this book was the description of the famous architecture of Paris, familiar to any traveler who has been fortunate enough to visit this fabulous city. In his first term at the Ecole Speciale d'Architecture, Andras had to create a model of the train station Gare d'Orsay. He spoke of drawing the arched windows and clock faces and all the stone detailing for this rail station built in 1900 and by the late 1930s becoming obsolete because of its short platforms that would not accommodate the longer trains serving southwestern France. I dug around in my photo albums and found photos that I had taken there in 2002, now an art museum-Musee d'Orsay--housing collections from the mid-1800s to 1914, including works of the great Impressionist painters.
This postcard shows the Beaux-Arts edifice of La Gare d'Orsay as designed by architect Victor Laloux:
When the train station was converted to the modern day Musee d'Orsay in 1977, the Italian architect kept the interior elements and feel of the original structure, including the arched windows, ornate clocks, and stone walls.
If you're just now making your summer reading lists, I highly recommend that you check out Miz B's Teaser Tuesdays. And, if you're looking for a challenging read with memorable characters then don't miss The Invisible Bridge. Plus, it's an economical way to ramble around Paris!