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A World to Win Paperback – April 3, 2007
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During the 1980's, my husband and I found ourselves in the position of assisting refugees from Romania - many of Hungarian descent. Although we were pleased to help those individuals get settled, I had never taken the time to delve into the history of the Hungarian people. After reading this book I have a hunger to learn more about their history, especially as it pertains to the events leading up to and through the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 which is the subject of this book. For those of you who mostly like your HR's light and fluffy - as I enjoy mine - this might not be the book for you. However, if you enjoyed Stella Riley's "Roundhead and Cavalier Series" or other similar works, I think you'll love this book.
I was hoping for a simple romance set against the revolution, but what I got was a love story with loads of history centered around the activities of the Hungarian Jacobin Club - the young radicals who were the ideological forerunners of the revolution - who often met at the Pilvax Coffee Palace in Pest, Hungary. Ms. Lancaster uses a well known depiction of the coffee palace on the cover of this book.
"A World to Win" features fictional primary characters in this historical setting. Our heroine, Katie Kettles, travels from England to Hungary in her role as governess with Count Istvan Szelenyi's family where her path will eventually intersect with Lajos Lazar, one of the leaders of the Jacobin Club. Katie has her own agenda, which is hinted at throughout the early parts of the book, however, once her path crosses with Lajos, her priorities will never be the same. Lajos comes from peasant stock - in fact, his family are serfs who work the Szelenyis' land as well as their own land - he has been educated and is now an attorney by trade. Although Lajos is worlds apart from the Szelenyi family as it relates to the class system, Lajos' and Katie's lives will be intertwined throughout the book.
Ms. Lancaster presents Lajos' character in such a way that he truly steals the show. Although Katie is a phenomenal character in her own right, Lajos is a rare find as a hero type. Personally, I would never agree with some of his basic religious and moral beliefs - still, he was one of those people who light up the world around them by their vision, the ability to communicate that vision and the passionate heart that goes beyond their own interests. Such people do make their mark upon the world. Martin Luther King comes to mind. Perfect? No! But shining lights in a dark world? Yes!
I so much enjoyed Mary Lancaster's Vienna books. I am pleased to add this to my list of recommended books.