I connected with Eva Kende, author of “Snapshots…Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain,” on Facebook and was intrigued enough by what she had to say about her life and work to buy her ebook. I was a bit apprehensive because I’ve bought books by a few other authors I’ve met online and have been disappointed to the point where I couldn’t even finish the books, let alone review them. Luckily, this is not the case with Eva’s eye-opener of a book.
The author’s conversational style, eye for detail and ability to capture the unique quirks, good and bad, of the folks who mattered most to her during her tumultuous childhood drew me right into her story. She was born in Budapest, Hungary, in the midst of World War II and lived there until the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, at which time she and her mother escaped and ultimately settled in Canada.
This is not a literary memoir or a traditional autobiography. It is a series of recollections honestly recounted. The book begins with Eva’s memories of her grandmother, an eccentric and highly successful necktie-maker and shopkeeper, and continues through the many adjustments required of Eva and her extended family as they lived amid the city’s ruins and survived the upheavals brought by foreign occupation and communist rule, including losing their livelihoods, their homes and many people they loved.
When I’ve thought of what life must have been like for people behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, I’ve tended to picture bleak scenes in black and white, glum people suffering in the cold, hungry people in bread lines. This book brings home how incomplete that picture is. Eva’s narrative shows how ordinary people adapted with ingenuity and pluck, and lived with dignity and hope. Dealing with so much loss, people still loved, laughed, worked, played—and there was much for a spirited child like Eva to learn among friends of all ages she made during her adventures in and around Budapest.
There was great hardship, certainly, but the human spirit soars in Eva’s book. I think it’s worth every penny of the pittance it costs to download. I imagine people who read this book will not only gain a new perspective on life in Eastern Europe after World War II, but they will also feel a good deal of admiration for the author when they turn the last page.