Friday, December 30, 2011

The Invisible Bridge - Discussion 4

Wow, if ever a book made you feel, this is it.  And how many feelings.  Rage, anger, disgust, disbelief, dread, to name a few.

I had my reservations with many slow spots and a few too many descriptions (that's where they could have cut it down, Kelly!) but the story, was fabulous.  Wow.

If you haven't read it; do it.

Things that stood out..

When the General stood up for Andras.  That General is the guy I would want to be able to say I was if I had been in that situation.  What a HORRIBLE comment made by the Major.  Sickening.  I cannot understand feeling that a whole group/race of people is below you.  (Unless of course they are U of M fans and then I get that.) Kidding...maybe.  ;)

I just don't understand how Klara would have felt it was safe or that no one would notice she came back? That just didn't seem believable to me at all.  Or how safe and secure they felt until it was too late.  How accepting they were of a lifetime of cruelties because they were Jewish.  I really must have lost the memo on why being Jewish is so bad.  (Are they U of M fans???) Kidding again..  I would have been trying to hightail my tushy out of there, but then again I do understand all that garbage about family and what not, but I kind of think I would look at it as, a I NEED TO SAVE MYSELF moment cuz I am selfish like that.

1. What details in the descriptions of Banhida (pp. 356–63, pp. 392–99), Turka (pp. 486–503), and the transport trains (pp. 558–66) most chillingly capture the cruelty perpetrated by the Nazis? In addition to physical abuse and deprivation, what are the psychological effects of the camps’ rules and the laws imposed on civilian populations?

2. Why does Klara refuse to leave Budapest and go to Palestine (p. 510)? Is her decision the result of her own set of circumstances, or does it reflect the attitudes of other Jews in Hungary and other countries under Nazi control?

3. The narrative tracks the political and military upheavals engulfing Europe as they occur. What do these intermittent reports demonstrate about the failure of both governments and ordinary people to grasp the true objectives of the Nazi regime? How does the author create and sustain a sense of suspense and portending disaster, even for readers familiar with the ultimate course of the war?

4. Andras’s encounters with Mrs. Hász (p. 6) and with Zoltan Novak (pp. 19–20) are the first of many coincidences that determine the future paths of various characters. What other events in the novel are the result of chance or luck? How do the twists and turns of fortune help to create a sense of the extraordinary time in which the novel is set?

5. What did you know about Hungary’s role in World War II before reading The Invisible Bridge? Did the book present information about the United States and its Allies that surprised you? Did it affect your views on Zionism and the Jewish emigration to Palestine? Did it deepen your understanding of the causes and the course of the war? What does the epilogue convey about the postwar period and the links among past, present, and future?

6. “In the end, what astonished him the most was not the vastness of it all—that was impossible to take in, the hundreds of thousands dead from Hungary alone, and the millions from all over Europe—but the excruciating smallness, the pinpoint of which every life was balanced” (p. 558). Does The Invisible Bridge succeed in capturing both the “vastness of it all” and the “excruciating smallness” of war and its impact on individual lives?

Any overall thoughts you'd care to share? A favorite character?

Once again, thank you for participating and making 2011 a lovely reading year!! Can't wait to see what we read in 2012!

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