Marrying Hungary

Marrying Hungary



About the book

Told with intelligence, sophistication and humour, Marrying Hungary is a glimpse into a life spent among foreigners, a tale of identity and independence. And it reveals what few memoirs reveal: what brings a couple together, what marriage means to an ambitious and accomplished woman, and why sometimes even a good marriage eventually fails.

About the author

Leith, Linda

Linda Leith was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. One of the most international of Canadian writers, she has lived in London, Basel, Brussels, Paris, Ottawa, Budapest and Montreal, where she founded and directs the hugely successful Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of London, England, and is Adjunct Professor of English at Concordia University in Montreal.

She is the author of seven books, including the literary memoirs Writing in the Time of Nationalism and Marrying Hungary, as well as three critically well-received novels, Birds of Passage, The Tragedy Queen, and The Desert Lake, all published by Signature Editions. She has also been published by Vehicule Press and ECW Press, as well as XYZ Editeur and Lemeac (in French), and Rad (in Serbian).


The boys were aged thirteen, twelve, and eight in the summer of 1990. Andy and I sold our car, rented out the house on the Lakeshore Road and moved some of our private belongings into a storage area we built in the huge garage. We packed Hector, the yellow Lab, off for his flight to Prague and Budapest, and set off on our own journey through New York and Vienna, where we spent most of the day before boarding the connecting flight to Budapest; it was evening when we landed in Budapest.

Sándor had hired a vehicle big enough for us and all our luggage. We dropped our belongings off at the villa in Buda where we were renting an apartment, and headed out to dinner with the cousins. The talk was all in Hungarian, loud and excited. My wide-eyed boys and I were tired and withdrawn, both overstimulated and bored. The dark-stained wood and heavy furnishings of the wine-cellar restaurant, the gypsy musicians, the rough wine and heavy food were all too much for me. I'd been a fool to come back here, I decided that night, falling into bed in a state of exhaustion.

I woke in the dead of night. Andy was asleep beside me, the boys together in the bedroom next to ours. I was conscious of strangeness. The air was strange, not unpleasant, but strange. The room was large, the ceiling high, and the French windows open. It was a mild summer night, and the very air felt foreign, or perhaps there was simply more air than I was used to. We were near the top of the Hill of Roses, so named by the Turks for the roses that flourished on the hillside centuries earlier and that flourish there to this day. There was a faint, unfamiliar smell indoors, too—floor wax, perhaps, or furniture polish. We had rented the apartment fully furnished and equipped, and the duvet was light, the new sheets crisp against my skin. A light from the street slanted through the wooden blinds. I was enchanted.


Marrying Hungary by Linda Leith is a memoir partly about marriage and partly about Hungary, but mainly about the formation of a writer's identity. For this reason, the self-consciousness of the writer is especially acute and rewarding. Leith's parents were… >>


Linda Leith is well known in literary circles, and deservedly so. She created Matrix magazine and the successful Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, and she has written three novels: Birds of Passage, The Tragedy Queen and The Desert Lake.… >>

The Montreal Gazette

When two people with different backgrounds marry, which culture predominates and how does that decision affect the marriage? Such are the questions tackled by Montreal writer Linda Leith in her absorbing memoir, an unblinking glimpse at her marriage to a… >>

The Winnipeg Free Press

This past weekend, I finally finished reading Montreal author Linda Leith's autobiographical new book, entitled Marrying Hungary. I started reading it for the purposes of a review (Leith resides in NDG and therefore makes for a perfect Monitor article), but… >>

The Monitor

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