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Inspired by a Haunting Keepsake Found in Budapest, New Memoir Recounts a Woman’s Journey of Discovery

By Tamás Székely // 2015.02.03.

In an antique store in Budapest, an American traveler was drawn to a leather-bound keepsake album filled with watercolors and expressions of love and loss, which memorialized the life of a young Hungarian girl, Amálka, at the turn of the 20th century. Entranced by the resonances and disparities between Amálka’s world and her own, Linda Fischer undertook a nine-year quest to understand them more fully, recounted in her first book: The Memory Book: One Woman’s Self-Discovery in the Mist of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Linda Fischer, a devoted student of the Hungarian language, spent nine years traveling and researching The Memory Book, which was inspired by the author’s discovery of a personal keepsake album, which prompted her to research the historical circumstances of its creator with help from people from around the world. Fischer’s first book provides a great way to learn about European and Hungarian history: the narrative rests on the story of author’s travels, while exploring the last 150 years of social changes in Central Europe.

Memory Book_cvr

Hailed in an early review by Booklist as “[a] very engaging look at modern Hungary, its food, culture, and folklore,” The Memory Book takes Fischer from New York City to Budapest and Vienna. Drawn steadily into the lost world of the friends and family who signed Amálka’s memory book, the author learns of students, railroad engineers, and doctors who wrote poetry, picked apples, celebrated weddings and harvests, and mourned the loss of love. The resulting narrative is a unique mix of travelogue, history and memoir, that reveals how heartfelt connections can create bonds that both illuminate and transcend their times.

Author: Linda Fischer
Title: The Memory Book: One Woman’s Self-Discovery in the Mist of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
Year: 2015
Publisher: Minted Prose, New York
Distributor: Small Press United, a subsidiary of Independent Publishers Group
Trade Paperback
326 pages
TRAVEL / Essays & Travelogues

source and photo: mintedprose.com