Saturday 26 February 2022

Book Review: Portraits of a Marriage by Sándor Márai (Fiction)

Title: Portraits of a Marriage
Author: Sándor Márai
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2012 (1941)
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction
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Peter and Ilonka are a wealthy couple whose outwardly perfect marriage is undone by secrets. The insecure Ilonka believes she can never be elegant and refined enough for her husband, while Peter has long been tormented by his forbidden love for Judit, a peasant and servant in his childhood home. What Judit longs for most, however, is freedom from the constraints of the society that has ensnared all three in a vortex of love and loss. Set against the backdrop of Hungary between the wars, in a world on the verge of dramatic change, this exquisite novel offers further posthumous evidence of Marai’s brilliance.


Having enjoyed previous books by Sándor Márai, I was keen to read Portraits of a Marriage. It was a pleasing book, and interesting in the way we saw the relationships through three different viewpoints. However, it was not exact repetition in each story, rather different parts of the same story with just a little overlap for continuity. The book examines many themes around the ideas of love and marriage and the reader is left to make up their own mind as to who was a fault for the things that happened, whether one or all of them in different ways. This story gets 4.5 stars from me, which I will round up to a five.

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