by M. L. Malcolm
I gave this book to one of my daughters for Christmas several years ago because I had seen it favorably reviewed on some one's blog. I thought she would enjoy it and then I'd get a chance to read it, too.
It took me years but I finally got to a point where I remembered it and asked to borrow it. I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed the story and the characters.
The book starts in 1940 and quickly jumps back to 1910 in Hungary. The dates span both World Wars so I prepared myself for some sad scenes. The main character is a young Hungarian who has an amazing talent for learning languages. This talent provides some interesting opportunities for Leo throughout his life.
First, Leo has the opportunity to study and live in Budapest where his life is transformed from a poor son of a Hungarian farmer to a foster son of a wealthy Jewish couple. His life experiences changed again with Hungary's collapse after WWI. I was interested in the Bolshevik take over of Hungary and why many blamed it on the Jews, so I did some further research online and filled in some gaps in my European history knowledge. (So much more to learn...) Leo meets the love of his live on a trip to Paris but when he is implicated in a counterfeit scheme he flees to Shanghai.
I found the twists and turns in Leo's life provided an interesting story and making it an even better book is the backdrop of historical events that I am familiar with but told from a different location and angle.
My one suggestion is to reread the first page after you finish the book. Also a warning - this is book one of two. I didn't know that when I bought the book. Luckily for me, my daughter bought the 2nd book so I didn't have to wait before diving right back into the story. Perhaps, I should offer one other warning since I recently complained about a sex scene in O' Artful Death. There is a much more colorful sex scene early on in Silent Lies, and though it didn't need to be so 'juicy', it wasn't just thrown in. It's the only one in the book so just get passed it and worry no more.