Review: Sándor Márai’s “Embers”

by writereaderly

In the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, two close male friends meet after an absence of 41 years to revisit the demise yet ultimate endurance of their friendship. Essentially a beautifully crafted monologue against a minutely detailed social backdrop, this brief novel delves into the ageing soul of the General, and sets out an exquisite anatomisation of love, betrayal and the desire for revenge. Profound, moving, and so very gloriously written – abundant kudos go to the translator Carol Brown Janeway – this book is a melancholy joy. I had previously read Márai’s La mujer justa (Az igazi, published in English as Portraits of a Marriage) and found it skilful but horrifyingly bleak; I’m so delighted to have finally read his writing in English. Splendid.

Where it came from: KS’s Bookshelf
Time and manner of reading: Two or three most pleasurable, snuck-in-around-the-main-game reads
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of: Oh, the beauty of immaculate writing
Who I’d recommend it to: Readers who want to explore another’s soul
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; Selected Essays by George Orwell; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Kalila and Dimna by Ramsey Woods