His telling Dodo no because he couldn’t bear to be in her debt has been so expertly built up that we only need to hear ‘Laszlo’s face crumpled as she spoke.’ to see all that pain. He’s not a bad person, he is honorable to the right people, and that is his attraction and undoing.
The isolationism many of the Hungarians choose seems to be manifest in Uzdy with his wild ideas of replacing the number system with units of 12. It’s all mad, but then there is nobody to tell him otherwise because he’s also such a wildcard threat.
“The tall elongated figure silhouetted against the butter-yellow building was like an exclamation mark after a cry of menace.”
I like how Baliant felt sad for Uzdy.
The Croatians must speak Croatian in their section of the railway in Croatia but their alliance with Kossuth who as Serbo-Croatian coalition got that rule passed now fell apart for the similar Hungarian language mandate. Language as the national identity. Ferenc Kossuth is the son of the famous Lajos, the great revolutionary.
We orbit into Adrienne’s mind where we learn the depth of her family turmoil and marriage problems and these thoughts end with them already having agreed with how to meet in secret. This telling of one thing that leads to the showing of another is a wonderful way to tell two threads of a story at once.
Where the first book ends with Adrienne standing at the window enveloped by the white netting as she contemplates Balint, Dodo stands at her own window with drunken Laszlo below and she sets her curtains on fire. And he was only there by chance unaware that she is madly in love with him. Hard not to empathize with Laszlo, even as much as he screws up.