Fever at Dawn by Péter Gárdos
The Last Word Review
Based on a true story this is moving and compassionate novel that is packed with emotion
When the war ended in 1945 and the horrors of the concentration camps were clearly visible to the world for those that survived the death camps it was time to rebuild their shattered lives and try and find husbands, wives, sons, daughters and other family members for many the sad truth is that families would never be reunited as they were murdered at the hands of the Nazis running the concentration camps.
Fever at Dawn is the deeply moving true story of two survivors from Belsen now free and recovering from their ordeal.
The author Péter Gárdos painstakingly retraces the lives of his father and mother through an incredibly moving account of their letters and their story in Fever at Dawn. It is beautifully written totally flawless.
We find Miklos in Belsen concentration camp barely alive when he was rescued by the Red Cross they found he had no teeth he was eventually moved to a hospital in Sweden while there he was diagnosed with TB and was only given six months to live. Miklos was not going to sit around waiting for death to come and visit after surviving Belsen.
At the same time that Miklos was being rescued from Belsen we find Lili also at the same camp also being saved by the Red Cross, Lili was also in a very bad way suffering severe malnutrition, the Red Cross also moved Lili to a hospital in Sweden. Both Miklos and Lili despite being in the same death camp had never previously met.
How they finally met is a true love story in defiance of death. While recovering in hospital Miklos managed to obtain a list of over 100 Hungarian women that survived the death camps and were recovering in various hospitals in Sweden. Miklos wanted to find love and wanted to find a wife before he died.
With not very many wanting to enter into any correspondence only Lili Reich seemed to summon up the courage to write back. From this moment their lives were about to change and the beautiful love story was born through letters.
Fever at Dawn is an incredibly moving account of the letters between Miklos and Lili as two young people try and rebuild shattered lives after the sheer brutality of war and we see two fragile lives now daring to dream of a future.
I am not going to spoil the story from here needless to say it moved me in a way only these stories from survivors could. For me it is a must read novel. A heart-stopping love story.
Péter Gárdos is a well renowned Hungarian film director with more than 20 international awards awarded. It was just three days after his father Miklos’ death that his mother decided to tell him the story and gave him a pack of letters tied with coloured ribbons, not opened since 1946.
A film based on the novel Fever at Dawn will be premier at major film festival during this coming year.
I am very grateful to Alison Barrow and Doubleday UK for an Advanced Review Copy.
‘Fever at Dawn’ written by Péter Gárdos and published by Doubleday. Published on 7 April 2016.