Magda Szabó lauded as Hungary's foremost female writer was renowned in Western Europe for her powerful prose and memorable heroines. She won France's Prix Femina Étranger for The Door in 2003; it is considered her most notable achievement. Written in 1987, the Door tells the story of the strange and complicated relationship between two strong women of opposing backgrounds and personalities: Magda-the intellectual,the writer; and Emerence- her mysterious housekeeper, the relentless worker.
Emerence is an enigma who has built up a solid barrier around herself. Her "door" is both real -for the structure she uses to shut away the outside world , and metaphoric - for the hardened exterior behind which her secrets lay.
The psychological plot unravels achingly slowly as Magda inches further to opening that door, exposing Emerence's painful story. How Szabó presents Emerence's puzzling personality is outstanding; the rage that comes off the page, then stops in its tracks to quiet apology is a mark of Szabó's unique style, one that initially took a while for me to get used to, then to admire and embrace.
This was a worthwhile story for its unusual heroine, one I would remember for quite some time.
Magda Szabó October 5th, 1917-November 15th, 2007