The Door (Hungary)

Book #19

The Door by Magda Szabó, translated by Len Rix

Why do we betray the ones we love most?


The Door aims to answer this question through the story of an unnamed narrator. She’s become a famous writer in Hungary and hires a housekeeper named Emerence to do all the things she loathes or doesn’t have time to do.

Emerence soon weaves a web of dependence around the house, which she’s already done to many others in the neighborhood. The adopted dog Viola only follows her orders, she only takes visitors on her porch, and her history shrouded in mystery keeps her community guessing as she endlessly clears the sidewalks of snow, delivers food to the sick, and knows when she’s needed before being asked.

Our narrator and Emerence develop a relationship underpinned by a deep-seeded love that neither seem to truly understand. Until the day Emerence becomes ill and the narrator makes a decision that forever changes the course of their relationship and remaining time together.

In the first few pages of the book, you learn that Emerence eventually dies, but how and why is the mystery thread throughout.

While reading, I found myself ending a section by sitting and reflecting on what I just read. This is a book that deserves your time and attention to absorb the emotion between two very different people who are trying to find their shared way in their small world.