The Door

The Door

Book - 2005
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The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship with Hungary's Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda's housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda's household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love--at least until Magda's long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation.
Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, 2005.
ISBN: 9781590177716
Branch Call Number: FIC Szabo
Characteristics: 262 pages ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Rix, L. B. (Len B.)
Alternative Title: Az ajtó. English


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Feb 03, 2019

Magda Szabo has been one of my most favourite authors. Her writing is different than the typical, and the stories are interesting. It is then really a shame that most of her books are not translated into English. However, The Door is one of her weaker novels, quite dissapointing for me. Maybe something is lost in translation. Still good reading, though.

Dec 21, 2017

The Door is a deep, complex and disturbingly honest exploration of human nature and relationships. Powerful, magical and masterfully written!

Oct 22, 2016

Wonderful, wonderful book. Enjoyed every page. A simple story about a very special caretaker touched me very much. i would recommend this book highly.

brianreynolds Sep 03, 2016

The Door by Magda Szabo is a compelling and thought provoking novel. It is also a prolonged and frustratingly plotless whine by a narrator who shares the name of the author. That unlikely coincidence begs a number of questions: the chief one being to what degree this might be in some manner a case of creative non-fiction rather than a masquerade of that genre. I read it as fiction; the alternative would have been uncomfortable to point of stopping altogether in spite of the steeply ascending storyline. Yet in retrospect, one can’t help but wonder. As fiction, the narrator, a very successful young writer, unpeels layer by layer her guilt over the death and humiliation of her illiterate housekeeper. The revelations about Emerence, the servant, that somewhat justify her idiosyncratic behaviour build a bond between the two women that is frustrated by differences in class, circumstance and education less than their failures to communicate, their pridefulness and pretension. Much of the conflict centres on deception, yet neither character is capable of admitting they are both guilty of the moral ambiguity of lying with the intent of saving a life (which doesn’t seem all that ambiguous to me and surprisingly is overlooked by two intelligent sensitive women.) Nevertheless, it’s an interesting door, two vividly drawn characters, a galloping read.

Jul 30, 2016

This was my first Hungarian novel and its unique voice/setting is part of the appeal. It introduces the reader to a truly remarkable character whose presence is scary powerful.

Apr 17, 2016

the last sentence in the publishers weekly says it all!!

Feb 14, 2016

This powerful book focuses on an old lady in Pest, Hungary. She’s survived seeing her younger brother and sister killed by lightning, the death of parents and being sent into service as a maid as well as two world wars. I didn’t like her, yet I felt her power and how she came to “rule” the street on which she lived with an iron hand, demanding the devotion of even Viola m the dog. Told by the “writer lady” for whom Emerence agreed to work, it is the story of coming under this strong old lady’s power, unable to leave Emerence alone despite Emerence’s seemingly derogatory actions and words. To me it is the story of how we try to push away people we need and love to avoid rejection.

Sep 13, 2015

would like to renew "The Door"

manoush May 17, 2015

A thoroughly original, absorbing novel in an excellent, unobtrusive translation. On the surface, The Door reads like a tightly-focused domestic drama about a woman writer and her stormy relationship with her unruly housekeeper Emerence. But a close reading reveals layers of Greek, Christian, and Hungarian mythology in Szabo's unforgettable portrait of Emerence. Szabo transforms a modest, solitary laborer like Emerence into a mythical figure, with all the mystery, heroism, and otherworldliness we'd expect of a deity. The scene where the "lady writer" is finally (and just once) allowed into Emerence's sanctuary is transcendent in its power and beauty. The Door is unlike any novel I have read, a true work of love and art.

Feb 08, 2015 :book review int The New York Times

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