My Books

Hallo, heaven calling!

Events that seem serendipitous appear in our lives when we most yearn for change. We know that we should change course, but something is missing. Courage? Faith? Confidence in ourselves? At such times we say with a sigh, what we need is a miracle, a voice that whispers to us and points the way. It resurrects deeply suppressed thoughts, feelings that we have swept aside, whether knowingly or unknowingly. A voice from the distance, but is it real or the product of our imagination?

Benjamin is sitting unsuspecting in the household appliances department of a shopping plaza, where he is employed. He is answering calls from customers with complaints with his customary routine or else stamps warranty slips. He thinks that his life couldn’t be more banal until a curious stranger joins the online conversation. The stranger is familiar with the past of all the customers calling Benjamin, down to the smallest detail, and he also knows that their futures will be marked by question marks. He takes over from Benjamin and sends stamped sheets from afar accompanied by some mysterious words. Furthermore, this time the sheets are not promising warranty for the sales items, but for the circuitous fates of the customers themselves. Afterwards, the lives of all those who came into contact with the distant caller take unexpected turns.

How does Flora’s relationship to her mother, who had abandoned her as a newborn child, change? What brings a change in the life of Zsolt, who stands behind a butcher’s counter, that makes him decide to become a vegetarian, never to so much as look at meat again, and that also make him realize that he was never able to let go of his former girlfriend in his soul? We also learn how the inmates of an old age home come to terms with aging, and whether the autistic boy Robi can learn to function in the world of the healthy.

Benjamin alsofinds his own answers. He meets a girl by whose side he can truly be himself, an open-hearted partnerinstead of a timid young man. He could be happy, but the shade of mortality casts its shadow over him. Will he get enough strength from the curious stranger on the line who might be God? Or can he conceive of him as someone else?

Dóra Galgóczi, the popular author of Tried on Lives (Felpróbált életek) and The House of Answers(Válaszok háza), among others, tells us about the lives of her everyday heroes who find themselves in situations that can radically change their lives with the charm and wisdom we have come to expect of her. Just like them, we would also like to think that our lives are influenced by powers greater than just our own free will. But perhaps the answer is not up there, but much closer at hand...

Men in a Daze
- mosaic about them, about us -

Thirteen lives, a single night over the Atlantic. A passenger plane heading for Brasilia is flying across the ocean during the night, carrying on board the secrets of thirteen men. They are strangers to teach other, yet with their superior smiles, repressed inhibitions, the fire of new beginnings and the doubts that come with answers, they could just as well be acquainted. Our passengers sometimes fall asleep, then are startled awake, and we accompany them, not only on their plane journey, but in their past as well. The separate stories form themselves into a mosaic; we could regard them as short stories, except now and again the threads intertwine, past and present touch each other’s borders. Magdalena, the stewardess, initiates the reader into the secrets of the question marks behind the closed eyelids.

Can there be friendship between a man and a woman without eroticism? The enigmatic relationship between the sensitive artist and his model provides the answer. Why are people skeptical when a father stays home to watch the children? Aaron also harbors doubts about whether he did the right thing when he chose this role for himself. The line between hate and attraction is fragile, and can the introverted, eccentric bachelor turn towards the world? We are also afforded a glimpse into the lives of Kristóf, the fanatic body-builder, Tibor, who has an inferiority complex living with his college educated wife, and Dénes, who is incapable of letting go of his mother’s apron strings. But the lives or sudden changes in the lives of these men will appear unusual only at first glance, for we soon realize how often we meet with similar situations, for their lives hold up a mirror to us and our families.

In her previous books, the author initiated the reader mostly into the lives of women. Now, the stories she relates afford insight into the character of men, thereby making us realize an interesting duality. A man’s thoughts and feelings seem easier to understand on the surface, much more black and white than the more sensitive world of a woman. But if we dig deeper, we see that the souls of men are full of surprises. There is as much uncertainty, the clash of plans and reality, in them, the insistence on the unreachable. They wish to seem strong, but at the same time they harbor the little boy of whom only photographs remain as reminders, deep inside them. The symbol of the stories that unfold in the course of the plane journey is a state of being in a daze between wakefulness and sleep: the irresolvable questions of the revived events and the present. The plane lands, but we do not say farewell to its passengers; we can continue reflecting on them and on men in general. To solve the mystery of their being is a challenge, but it is also a present to the reader.

Born to be Young
- novel -

The eternal race against time. How good it would be to stop it! Like so many women, Angéla, too, would like to do so, and she does everything in her power to succeed. Her aim gradually turns into a passion, though, until she is willing to undergo painful procedures and grueling exercise routines to achieve her aim. She takes special vitamins and keeps to a strict diet in order to say No! to the passing of time.

She desperately wants to reduce the signs of age on her appearance. However, she is not motivated by vanity; she is not after new conquests. Ever since her younger years, she has wanted to stand out from the sea of similar faces to prove that she is better than her fellows. By her mother’s side, a much-admired, domineering actress, Angéla feels like a gray mouse. She needs proof so she can prove to the world that she will never be one of the crowd. Her solution is to preserve her youth, but in the meanwhile she doesn’t notice that she has turned her back on real human relationships. Her insistence on keeping her figure and undergoing more and more plastic surgery bring more and more pain with it, while her strict diet poses a real challenge to her will power. The profession she has chosen for herself is also related to her quest. As a cosmetician, she want to find the secrets of ageless beauty. When she thinks that one of her guests is more attractive than herself, she feels extremely jealous.

Before we conclude that Angéla is a self-centered, conceited woman without respect for others, however, we are shown the vulnerable side of her personality. She is desperately looking for the Angéla whom she could be proud of when she looks into the mirror. She decides that she will not live for herself alone but will share the key to eternal youth with others. She starts a business selling health products, and is happy to see that her customers are grateful and satisfied. But even so she can’t relax; she continues to be afraid of the signs of ageing. This never ending battle finally takes its toll on her marriage as well. Her husband, Miklós, gets fed up with the life style she forces on him; he feels that their apartment is no longer a home but a survival camp.

Can their relationship be saved and can Angéla find the woman inside her she has been looking for all along? Then thanks to a chance meeting, she realizes that true value is not bound either to the calendar, or to her mirror. Perhaps it is not too late to find the way back to her authentic self as well, as those who mean the most to her.

A Chance to be Born
- novel -

The most natural thing in the world also involves the most difficult decision of our lives. A long line of hopes, plans, doubts and question marks follow each other until a child enters a woman’s life. Often, this moment makes us wait for it for a long time – sometimes for years, sometimes forever. More and more often, mothers planning children find it difficult to identify with the thought of motherhood. Though they experience this special, inimitable feeling in their dreams, they often back off when their chance really comes.

Csilla, the heroine of the novel, has toyed with the idea of becoming a mother many times. And yet, the abyss between her wishes and reality widens with time. Unexpected turns of events, spells of uncertainty, looking for her real aim in life – these act as so many impediments preventing her from making a decision. She knows in her heart that her as yet unborn child is waiting for her somewhere, and she records her thoughts and feelings in letters addressed to it. She shares her wavering emotions about having a child with disarming honesty – feelings that most would-be mothers share with her but are reluctant to admit, even to themselves. Though they are meant for the baby waiting in Csilla’s imagination, these letters hold a mirror up to the reader. Every man and woman waiting for a child, every would be parent who understand the real values of the parental role, will recognize themselves as they read, while those who are bringing up children will feel a sense of relief knowing that they are not alone with their fears and doubts.

In her letters, Csilla writes about the plans of her teenage years, the enthusiasm of her twenties, and her thoughts and feelings as she became a mature woman. Throughout, the wish to become a mother is in her thoughts, but she openly reveals the impediments that hold her back. She would not like to fall into a trap after she finds a man, because her partner must be one with whom the word “family” will retain its true meaning. Sometimes she thinks she has found him, but with time she realizes that her True Partner is still waiting for her somewhere.

At last, the man who can fill the void in her life is standing by her side. Only a newborn baby is missing from the perfect harmony she craves. However, they are a sober-minded couple and don’t want the child until they have created all the conditions for it. This, however, springs another trap: the work stretching into the night, the unceasing chasing after a career and livelihood and the stress pose a grave danger to their relationship. As a consequence, the thought of motherhood recedes into the back of Csilla’s mind, who is afraid that a child would bring an end to her few precious moments together with her husband, Adam.

When she considers motherhood again, she remembers the boy in her family who was born with a handicap. She is terrified at the thought that the same thing might happen to them. Would she have the strength to sacrifice everything for the rest of her life in order to care for a sick child? This time, she is held back by her worst fears.

In subsequent letters to her unborn child she reveals her thoughts, ones that most people would be reluctant to admit to themselves, namely, that motherhood mustn’t be imagined as a pink cloud, because it involves a great deal of resignation and at times, with superhuman effort. A mother must work the balance between her family and a career, all the while that she must remain a Woman, so her partner will continue being attracted to her. She is determined not to have a marriage bogged down by boredom and ennui, held together only by force of habit, a marriage in which former passion falls prey to everyday grind. Then she realizes that if they love wisely, they can jump this particular hurdle. But at this juncture, fate brings a new challenge as the hospital, surgery, hopes and doubts confront them, for the first time, with the vision of death.

When their life is back to normal, Csilla feels that she has reached a crossroad. She reconsiders her former plans but is suddenly beset by doubt once again. Perhaps being a mother is not the leading role that life has assigned her? Perhaps there is good reason why this chapter of her life has not yet been written? Should she be looking for fulfillment and her true vocation in some other sphere? This thought is liberating. There is no need, she now realizes, to cling so desperately to the thought of motherhood. But at the same time, she mustn’t abandon it altogether; after all, the wish to have a child is a natural instinct. In which direction will Fate cast the dice? The answer should be sought not so much in the lines of these letters as in ourselves.

Tried on lives
- novel -

When we were unhappy, we have all thought at one time or another how nice it would be to have another life. We’d surely be happier, luckier, more successful. We’d remedy our bad decisions and chose a profession that suited us instead of working only because we had to. We’d have more quality time for our families, and with our new self-confidence march toward our goals with steady strides.

Anna, the young, openhearted teacher often dreams about a chance to live a different life. Her persistent self-confidence makes her feel that she’s confined, once and for all, to the shady side of life. When she looks in the mirror, she sees herself as an uninteresting, gray little mouse that doesn’t deserve real love and recognition. Though she has deep feelings and valuable thoughts deep inside, her feelings of inferiority keep her from recognizing and showing them. She thinks how much better her life would be if only she could try herself out with a new personality and a more attractive appearance. Then suddenly one summer, her wish comes true, and she is given a chance to try on various new feminine roles. She experiences what it is like to be a top model who draws the eyes of men like a magnet, who heaps success on top of success and basks in the sun of the worshipful glances of her admirers. But then behind the lights and the cameras she discovers the truth – that at the bottom of her soul she years for something else and is not satisfied with being the center of attention because of her beautiful figure. She is given a chance to be transformed and assume the role of an intelligent psychiatrist. She can now put her success does to her sharp wit and profound gift for sympathy. Then a tragic event shocks her into the realization that her life, which she thought was complete, is merely an illusion. Though her colleagues appreciate her devotion to her work and the number of her healed and appreciative patients grows, when she loses her beloved grandmother, her only living relative, she realizes that she is alone in the world. Because she lived only for her calling, she turned her back on the feelings that could have bound her to others. She’d do things differently, if only she could, and bathe in the love of her family day after day.

One morning, when she wakes up, she finds herself in her new role as a wife in a tranquil village who devotes her life to her husband and two children. The perfect solution, if only she were not nagged by the need to be a talented artist as well as a wife and mother. This new career with its new challenges pops up again and again in her imagination in the shape of travel to foreign lands, and she feels that she must meet it.

The small, mystical turn of events that moves the narrative along surfaces once more, and Anna finds herself within the walls of a modern office building. On one of her trips abroad she meets Edward, but the miles separating them threatens to weaken the love they feel for each other. Should she leave her roots and give up her former life for the man she loves? And would Edward’s little boy, who lives with Edward, accept her? After much soul searching, Anna realizes that she could not turn her back on her homeland, family and friends in favor of an uncertain future. And so, the new life she had wanted so much failed her again. However, before she can give herself over to despair, she finds her teaching schedule in her bag and rushes off to school. She has made a full circle back to herself, and it is the Anna we came to know at the beginning of the book who returns between its lines. Or is she just a little bit different? The numerous lives she tried on were not in vain. The woman she had always been has surfaced, and now, freed of anxiety, she can embrace her with open arms. She can now accept words of praise and happy moments with an open heart, not to mention the man who is out there somewhere, waiting just for her. She can now look in the mirror with satisfaction. This was her present from fate and her unusual journey, one that conducted her through a variety of lives.

A Woman’s Thousand Faces
- Stories About You, Stories About Her -

Destinies and life-fragments, each brings a different feminine characteristic to life. You may even find yourself in one of the stories of this volume.

It is a mystery why women are so difficult to understand. From their tender years to their golden years, they never fail to surprise us. They are fragile and they are tough as iron. They are hesitant and they are resolute. They are naive and wise, honest and mysterious. Whether in prim suits or sexy shorts, blue jeans or pajamas, they show us their thousand faces day after day.

As you read these stories, you will get a glimpse into the secret thoughts and feelings that women keep hidden even from themselves. How do they ride the waves of their teenage emotional roller coaster ride, how can they tell when love is real, how do they find their balance on the see-saw of family and career? The problems of the older generation also give us pause – their most basic fears, such as their fear of feeling superfluous in the world.

Vera, plagued by a lack of self-confidence, Zsófia, the self-sacrificing nurse, Stefi, who is suffering from a string of unsuccessful diets hold a mirror up to us, and so does the abandoned grandmother and Malvin, who in her sixties rediscovers the pleasures of life. Each one is a unique human being, yet their lives intertwine with yours on many points. Smiles and unsettling reversals of fortune follow each other in quick succession on the pages of the book. The alternation of irony, deep feelings and questions worth pondering lend a myriad colors to the bouquet of stories. In them, you will recognize yourself – or Her? This is what we are like, this is what they are like: Women.

Anorexia – The Journey

What might push an intelligent and pretty girl into the life-threatening trap of starvation? How does the soul take over control of the body stealthily, and drive it to despairing thinness?

The illness called anorexia nervosa has an ever-wider circle of victims, mostly young girls. We might think their good fortune provided them with everything: An attractive figure, outstanding abilities, and a charming personality. However, they live in permanent dissatisfaction. They feel they are not perfect and they are unsuited for life. Dancing on the edge of being and non-being, they loose weight to a fearful extent, and people around them just watch helplessly as they destroy their health.

In the novel, the secret of Anikó’s diary is revealed. The story describes her struggle with anorexia and with herself, and the way in which she moves from a hopeless fight to a liberating recovery. As we follow her story, we come across ideas that are well known for all of us. From time to time, who is not preoccupied with vital questions connected to finding a partner, a parent-child relationship, and choosing a career? Those who find it hard to overcome obstacles that appear in their way might choose the wrong way to escape, and use illnesses such as anorexia as placebo solutions. This is the trap into which Anikó, who was in the hand of this mysterious illness, had fallen. In her diary, she remembers the beginning as follows:

“It would be vain to explain to anybody who had never had a similar experience that swallowing a spoonful of cooked food was a greater trial than letting hundreds of infusion needles run through my veins. Every attempt at persuasion, coaxing, begging, and shouting was doomed to fail, and my fitful resistance to filling my stomach won. Anorexia robbed me of more than ten years of my life, and, although I seemingly participated in existence during that time, there was a huge abyss between me and feelings such as contentment, a sense of balance, and - even writing down the word is strange – happiness.”

Only when she realised that she did not stand a chance without help, could she start on the way of recovery, which was not at all smooth. An excellent psychiatrist was the real solution. She underwent a self-imposed and lengthy therapy, and, with the help of her doctor, she returned to her childhood. It turned out that the main reason for her lack of self-confidence was her overprotective upbringing. She desperately tried to gain control of her life, and as a means of doing this, she chose eating, in which she did not let anybody else have a say.

She also found it hard to accept the idea of taking on the role of a woman and a mother. During the therapeutic discussions it turned out that she had reservations against the acceptance of femininity.

“I did not dare to put on the real, feminine body; this would have been a call: ‘Notice me!’. I would have liked to stay in the shade, and bide my time until I jumped into a relationship by myself. ’No, don’t push me!’ My thinness suggested this, again as an excuse for staying where I was.

During the deep-reaching therapy, Anikó was gradually reborn. She could see her abilities and desires more clearly, and realised that she was as valuable as millions of people around her. As the walls built with bricks of fear started to fall down, she gradually and imperceptibly resumed normal eating. She realised how many opportunities that she had almost lost were still waiting for her. She compared her life to that of a chestnut that had just peeped out of its husk.

“Now, everything is before it, before us. The morning sun rises higher, and we look at each other and say: ’yes, it had to be like this, we don’t mind it, and we did it: we have stepped into the sunshine at last.’”

Exceedingly strong ties to parents, strong aspirations for perfection, lack of self-confidence, and increased sensitivity describe the life of girls who have fallen into the trap of anorexia. There are more of them among us than we think, hiding the problem even from themselves. Between the lines of the novel, they, and all those who would like to get to know their own character better and want to find their real way in life, can find themselves.