Celestial Harmonies

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Harper Perennial, 2004 - Historical fiction - 846 pages
11 Reviews
A biographical novel in the grand European literary tradition that spans multiple generations and three centuries of tumultuous Central European history, as witnessed by the Esterhazys, a leading Hungarian family. The Esterhazys, one of Europe's most prominent aristocratic families, are indelibly inscribed in the history of the Hapsburg Empire. Having gone through epic conquest, tragedy, triumph and near destruction, the Esterhazy family lore is rich, poignant, entertaining and awe-inspiring. 'Celestial Harmonies' is a national epic in the form of fiction, which Esterhazy writes by reinventing the traditional form of the dynastic saga. Beginning with short sections narrated in the first person, 'Celestial Harmonies' recounts legends, inventions and episodes that form a mosaic in which chronology is abandoned and only one prominent figure exists: 'My Father'. The character of 'My Father' is a Don Juan, a profligate, a tycoon and a scholar, a bishop, an architect, a madman and a tyrant, an envoy and a premier, a student of Helmholtz and the cat in Schrodinger's experiment. He stands for each and every family member, functioning as a mount for simply everything, a man as unlimited and inexhaustible as the power born by the book's fictional family. 'Celestial Harmonies' is a rich, dazzlingly original exploration of the emotional ties that bind men to their fathers, bonds that stand outside time, place and history. Old world glamour meets harsh post-war reality in a novel that touches on all aspects of life and philosophy relevant to us today the nature of dictatorship, love, hate and family relationships, to meditations on betrayal, God and Christianity.

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Review: Celestial Harmonies

User Review  - Addicted to Books - Goodreads

This could've been such a great history of a Hungarian family (the author's) if it had been written in a linear narrative. Instead, he spent almost 850 pages sharing random anecdotes in random order. Sigh. Read full review

Review: Celestial Harmonies

User Review  - Jennifer - Goodreads

It may have a great deal to do with my ignorance of Hungarian history and rhetoric style, but I was so confused. What is going on? Why was a whole chapter naming items that were inside a castle? Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Peter Esterhazy, a member of one of Europe's most prominent families, was born in Budapest in 1950. He is one of Hungary's most innovative contemporary writers. His works, published mostly in Europe, are considered to be significant contributions to post-war literature.

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