Originally published in 1970, “Abigail” is Szabó’s most popular book in Hungary and has been adapted into both a TV series and a musical. It is even more widely read than “The Door,” the 1987 novel that might be her best-known work outside the country. And hence, The English edition of “Abigail” is as welcome as it is overdue.
In a review by the New York Times, the novel is described as “unspooling its secrets over many pages, and the resulting tour de force is taut with suspense.” Len Rix’s translation is impeccable, but Szabó’s frank, conversational prose takes a back seat to her sinuous plotting.
“Abigail” is at once harrowing and mesmerising, all the more so because we glimpse its dramas through the uncomprehending lens of Gina’s youthful simplicity. Nothing could ruin a book so humane — but to resolve the novel’s central mysteries, especially the enigma of Abigail’s identity, would be to diminish some of its breathless urgency. To learn the truth, you must consult Abigail herself.
Abigail is the journey of one girl, fighting with herself and everything around her,
in some of the most trying times the world has ever witnessed to find the truth and understand things not as they pass her by but as an active entity.
She finds herself believing the unbelievable and putting faith in things, and people she was quick to reject in the beginning.
It is a coming of age novel about a teenage girl adjusting to a new life as the world around her turns to shambles.
Read the New York Times Review here: In Magda Szabo’s Magical Novel, a Statue Protects Students From the Nazis