"Papa melted away one night, like the butter in Mama's frying pan." So begins five-year-old Serene Sprier's long and painful separation from the father who vanished without a word from her small Hungarian village. It's 1913, months before the outbreak of World War 1. Throughout the turbulent years that follow, dreams and visions connect Serene to her absent Papa.
In the summer of 1916, fighting spreads to her village, and her family is forced to flee. They board a train to Budapest, but the army stops them halfway, leaving the passengers stranded by the tracks for days without food. Finally, help arrives. Serene, her mother, brother, and sisters live out the rest of the war as refugees in a shack on the property of a wealthy Jewish family.
In 1919, Serene returns to her village, now part of Romania, to find her home destroyed and her way of life gone forever. Then, at last, family receives a letter from Papa in America with money for their passage. Serene abandons her old-world ghosts, charms, and fantasies and journeys across the ocean to begin a brand new life.
GLASS HEARTS is available on Amazon.
This photograph (described in "Tickets" near the end of GLASS HEARTS) dates from early 1914, several months after my grandfather fled Hungary to escape his creditors. Having your picture taken was expensive, but my grandmother knew my grandfather had to be able to identify his family to the immigration authorities in New York City. The Great War broke out before he could afford to send for her and the children, so they remained in Europe until 1919. What happened during those years gave me the raw material for the novel: