Friday, February 13, 2009

The Storyteller - Book Review

The Storyteller
by Anna Porter
Doubleday Canada 2000 (HC)
Anchor Canada 2001 (PB)
Douglas & McIntyre 2006 (PB)

I have been fascinated by Anna Porter ever since I first read about her. She was born in Hungary, fled with her family during the 1956 revolution, went to school in New Zealand, and then later moved to Canada in 1969. She wrote books and poetry as well. I have been fascinated by Hungary for many years as well.

Anna Porter was born Anna Szigethy in Hungary in 1944. Anna knows nothing of her father other than his name - Istvan Szigethy. Anna's mother was Puci Racz and Anna's maternal grandfather was Vili Racz.

The Storyteller is about Anna's early life in Hungary, and includes many of Vili's stories that he passed on to Anna while they went on long walks around Budapest. Some of these stories were old legends of Hungary's history, some were true stories that had happened to Vili during World Wars 1 and 2, and others were made up stories altogether.

In the spring and summner of 1956, Russia decided that Hungary was becoming to decadent (westernized) and the tanks rolled in. They would later do the same to Czechoslovakia in 1968. Anna's family, including her grandfather Vili, escaped from Hungary that year and settled in New Zealand. Anne attended Canterbury university in Christchurch and in 1969 she did what most young people do in New Zealand. She went on her OE - her Overseas Experience - her travel trip.

Because New Zealand is so isolated from the rest of the world, most young people do the travel tour to see the world before they come home and settled down to life, work and marriage. Whether or not the economy allows for them to still do this - I dont know. I only know that I never did mine. I could not afford it.

Anna worked in London and then travelled to Canada where she fell in love with the country and a lawyer, and chose to stay in Canada. In 1970 Anna married a lawyer named Julian Porter. He is now Queens Counsel. They have 2 daughters and live in Toronto. Anna eventually started her own publishing company called Key Porter Books She ran it for many years but no longer does so.

I read this for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge - ABM genre

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