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“Perfect late night reading” JAN MORRIS
“Banffy is a born storyteller” PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR
“Totally absorbing” MARTHA KEARNEY
“So evocative” SIMON JENKINS

An extraordinary portrait of the vanished world of pre-1914 Hungary, this epic story is told through the eyes of two cousins, Count Balint Abady and Count Laszlo Gyeroffy. Shooting parties in great country houses, turbulent scenes in parliament and the luxury life in Budapest provide the backdrop for this gripping, prescient novel, forming a chilling indictment of upper-class frivolity and political folly in which good manners cloak indifference and brutality. Abady becomes aware of the plight of a group of Romanian mountain peasants and champions their cause, while Gyeroffy dissipates his resources at the gaming tables, mirroring the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire itself.

This is the first volume Banffy’s trilogy, which continues with They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided. It was rediscovered for an international readership after the fall of communism in Hungary.

With a Foreword by Patrick Leigh-Fermor and translated from Hungarian by Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen

WINNER OF THE WEIDENFELD TRANSLATION PRIZE

Reviews

Just about as good as any fiction I have ever read, like Anna Karenina and War and Peace rolled into one. Love, sex, town, country, money, power, beauty, and the pathos of a society which cannot prevent its own destruction - all are here
Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
Fascinating. He writes about his quirky border lairds and squires and the high misty forest ridges and valleys of Transylvania with something of the ache that Czeslaw Milosz brings to the contemplation of this lost Eden
W. L. Webb, Guardian
Pleasure of a different scale and kind. It is a sort of Galworthisn panorama of life in the dying years of the Habsburg Empire - perfect late night reading for nostalgic romantics like me
Jan Morris, Observer "Books of the Year"
Full of arresting descriptions, beautiful evocations of scenery and wise political and moral insights
Francis King, Spectator
So enjoyable, so irresistible, it is the author's keen political intelligence and refusal to indulge in self-deception which give it an unusual distinction. It's a novel that, read at the gallop for sheer enjoyment, is likely to carry you along. But many will want to return to it for a second, slower reading, to savour its subtleties and relish the author's intelligence
Allan Massie, Scotsman
Like Joseph Roth and Robert Musil, Miklós Bánffy is one of those novelists Austria-Hungary specialised in. Intimate and sparkling chroniclers of a wider ruin, ironic and elegiac, they understood that in the 1900s the fate of classes and nations was beginning to turn almost on a change in the weather . . . Bánffy, a prime witness of his times, shows in these memoirs exactly what an extraordinary period it must have been to live through
Julian Evans, Daily Telegraph
Although comparisons with Lampedusa's novel The Leopard are inevitable, Banffy's work is perhaps nearer in feel to that of Joseph Roth, in The Radetzky March. They were, after all, mourning the fall of the same empire
Ruth Pavey, New Statesman