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Translated by Liz Szász
In July 1945, Miklós, a Hungarian survivor of Belsen, arrives in a refugee camp in Sweden. He is skin and bone, and has no teeth. The doctor says he has only months to live.
But Miklós has other plans. He acquires a list of 117 young Hungarian women who are also in refugee camps in Sweden, and he writes a letter to each of them—obsessively, in his beautiful hand, sitting in the shade of a tree in the hospital garden. One of those young women, he is sure, will become his wife.
In a camp hundreds of kilometres away, Lili reads his letter. Idly, she decides to write back.
Letter by letter, the pair fall in love. In December 1945 they find a way to meet. They have only three days together, and they fall in love all over again. Now they have to work out how to get married while there is still time…
This story really happened.
Fever at Dawn is a love story for the ages. Based on the letters of the author’s parents, it’s a sad and joyous tale that will stay with you long after its happy ending.
‘It has the sweetness of The Rosie Project and the pathos of The Fault in Our Stars. Better still, it is based on a true story…A book to fall in love with.’
‘A touching account of a strange courtship…Fever at Dawn is constructed around highly visual scenes and sharply but simply drawn minor characters.’
‘A vital, enjoyable read…There is a timeless quality to Fever at Dawn, a kind of classical romanticism.’
‘Deeply moving and inspiring…A story of the power of love and poetry at a time and place of enormous deprivation and horror.’
‘A magnificent novel, tonally flawless, its humour defiant in the face of vast tragedy.’
‘The impossibly moving story of two damaged youths who forge from their amour fou a love that will light the decades ahead. With playfulness and charm, with iron conviction, Fever at Dawn will convince you that it’s possible not only to survive the worst of human hell, but to transcend it.’
‘The strength of this work is not just the compelling story it tells but that it is founded in real-life events. Ultimately, it’s an inspiring story about how hope and love can fortify one’s resolve even when the struggle for survival is acute.’
‘Fever at Dawn belongs to the canon of extraordinary true stories about love and war and the power of letters. Dramatic, compassionate and deeply moving, this unforgettable story reminds us that the Holocaust is not only history it’s a warning.’
‘Books don’t make me cry. Fever At Dawn did. Drawing you in with pathos and playful wit, it squeezes the heart with sorrow and leaves it expanded with joy and love.’
‘This heart-warming tale, flawlessly translated from the original Hungarian by Elizabeth Szasz, is an uplifting and entertaining read: there is love, there is jealousy and betrayal and there is plenty of humour.’
‘Fever at Dawn is a riveting and high-spirited journey from the brink of death toward life, a novel that asserts the power of love in a world newly devastated by unspeakable hate. With courage, humor, and unfailing emotional honesty, Peter Gardos illuminates the incredible power of the human will—the drive not just to stay alive, but to fight for a life worth celebrating.’
‘A triumph of the human spirit over adversity that is very satisfying reading…Amusing and uplifting.’
‘Whimsical, poignant and completing charming. It will make you like life more when you’ve finished.’
‘Touching…Péter Gárdos celebrates the power of love to overcome adversity.’
‘A poignant, ultimately uplifting story of how the longing for love and family can defy tragedy and terror.’
‘At once heartrending and lighthearted, this romance covers enormous ground in love and war, joy and tragedy, humor and pathos. Fever at Dawn, with its historical backdrop, will win over many readers.’