Abigail – Magda Szabo

abigailI love a good boarding school story, and Abigail does not disappoint. Set during WWII in Hungary, young Gina Vitay is sent away to the Matula, a strict Protestant all-girls boarding school. Gina tries to adapt to her new austere circumstances, cut off from everyone she loves and the luxurious life she’s used to, but soon the girls who once her friends label her as a traitor, and she’s ostracized. Her only comfort is confessing her troubles to Abigail, the stone statue in the garden, and plotting her escape from the Matula.

As the story progresses, the outside world sneaks its way in to the Matula, and the war begins to cause upset among the lives of both the girls and the teachers. Gina also comes to learn that her role in her father’s military mission is much greater than she realized, and some of the teachers are involved.

I don’t want to give too much away and risk spoilers, but there’s more than meets the surface in this book. It’s deeper than a coming-of-age story. I can see why this is one of the most popular classic novels in Hungary, as it provides a unique perspective of the war and how it affected ordinary Hungarian citizens.

Many thanks to Edelweiss and Random House for the advance copy in exchange for my review.