Best monologue goes to Embers by Sandor Marai

I recently found a copy of Embers by Sandor Marai in a used bookstore and immediately snapped it up because I’ve head such great reviews about it. The novel did not disappoint! The story takes place before and after the first World War. It’s a story of two aristocrats, one poor (Konrad) and one rich (Henrik aka The General), who are inseparable since their childhood days in military academy.

But something happens and Konrad leaves without a good-bye to work in “the tropics” which he identifies as Singapore. Fast forward forty-something years and Konrad has finally returned to visit The General. This book is so beautifully written and while descriptions are long, it never feels like a word is wasted.

Which is saying a lot because most of the book is basically a monologue by The General and it can seem awfully drawn out. As the reader, it’s a tantalizing wait to discover what exactly happened before Konrad disappears. But it’s a lot like watching a baby unwrap a gift in that the process of getting to the truth means more than the actual story. This was a really refreshing read. There’s really no other book that I can compare it to. And to think that the Marai’s work was basically lost in time until recently (read the fantastic back story).

If you’re looking for a short yet deep summer read, I highly recommend Embers.

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