Advance reader reviews of Strangers in Budapest, page 3

Strangers in Budapest

by Jessica Keener

Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener X
Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2017
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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There are currently 21 member reviews
for Strangers in Budapest
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  • Carolyn S. (Decatur, GA)

    Strangers in Budapest
    Strangers in Budapest finds an American couple running away from their past. They find some unlikely people to make fiends with. I didn't think the author really achieved getting a sense of city that she puts in her title.
  • Myrna M. (Chapel Hill, NC)

    Trouble in Budapest
    An old man travels to Budapest to seek justice or revenge for the death of his daughter. A fortyish man leaves security in America and goes to Budapest to join a cast of entrepreneurs seeing to cash in on a potentially new economy; his wife's family misfortunes propel her actions. A young man flees his fuzzy past to build a new life in Budapest. There is lots of foreshadowing as to how these paths will cross. Budapest is the star of this novel, a city downtrodden, its people glum, little hope in their lives, yearning for American dollars. Throw in a few historical facts, a sweet adopted child, and poverty-stricken Roma children for contrast—the Romas a side story that goes nowhere-- and you have this novel. The dialogue is a bit stilted at times and the old man's inner meanderings are repetitive, a device that could give emphasis to his mental condition, but which becomes irritating after the third or fourth repetition. A promising story with too many psychological clichés. I would have rated this "fair" if that option were available. I would not recommend it for our senior community library.
  • Jane B. (Chicago, IL)

    No real mystery here
    Strangers in Budapest should have been titled Annie in Budapest because all things connect with Annie. No characters are particularly developed, not even Annie. Repeating descriptions or feelings do not expand the reader's knowledge of a character. Annie wanted to find out something about herself by living in Budapest and what she found out was that she is most comfortable at home in the USA. However the story does contain nice descriptions of sites around Budapest with interesting historical tidbits. Michael Jackson's appearance was an odd note and could have been omitted. Perplexed by Annie's desire to fit in to Hungarian culture and her running about town in jogging shorts and running shoes. In other European countries in the 90s, this costume was frowned upon if worn in city streets and not in the proper place which would have been a gym or sports club.
  • Gail H. (Mayo, FL)

    Great Setting, Disappointing Characters
    The premise and setting for Jessica Keener's novel are so intriguing.. With the collapse of the Soviet domination of eastern Europe, there were all sorts of opportunities for savvy minded entrepreneurs from the west. Having visited Budapest a few years before the 1995 setting of this novel, I was eager to read Keener's perception of this bridge period in history. Her setting rang true but none of the characters came to life in this novel. Annie was unhappy and whiny and seemed to delegate much of the rearing of her long awaited adopted son to her Hungarian babysitter. Her husband, Will, did make the effort to become moderately fluent in Hungarian, but seemed to leap into the opportunity to start his own business in Budapest without much foresight. The elderly man whom Annie befriended, Edward, was obsessed and irrational about his daughter's death and Annie showed very poor judgement by believing him. I wish that the author had fleshed out the characters' motivations a bit more than she did because the setting and place of this novel are fascinating.
  • Judy K. (Conroe, TX)

    I found this book hard to finish. It's not that I insist on a happy book or happy ending, but page after page of doom and gloom makes for an unappealing read for me. I was, at first, hopeful that I would enjoy the story because the premise was promising: a young couple with a baby leaving their home and secure future to take a huge financial risk in a rapidly developing economy in Hungary. It's something I wish I could've done, so the initial plot line pulled me in. But, then, the story deteriorated when the main character, Annie, became, in my opinion, unrealistically involved with an old man who exhibited personality traits most people would've considered crazy. Most people would not have gotten caught up in this demented old man's scheme of revenge. I ended up disliking almost everyone in the book and the ending most of all. It felt like the author had painted herself into a corner and the only way out was to wrap things up quickly. I couldn't recommend this to anyone.
  • RI, (Saddle River, NJ)

    Monotonous in Budapest
    The jacket of this book says "Budapest: gorgeous city of secrets, with ties to a shadowy, bloody past." What a great premise for a novel but what a disappointment to read. A husband and wife decide to sell everything in America and move to Budapest, along with their infant son, to start a new life. The story basically revolves around Annie, the wife, and how she becomes entangled with a man who is seeking revenge on his son in law. Exactly who the son in law is becomes the big mystery of the book, but sadly, not that hard to figure out before the end. None of the characters are thoroughly developed and Annie is a whiny, self-absorbed person who you tire of very quickly. I found the book to be redundant and the few times that I felt like it was finally taking off, it only fell flat again. I have never been to Budapest, but after reading this book I don't think I ever will because Keener's descriptions of the city and people are very dark, dismal and dirty. On top of all of this, the ending is very predictable. I'm sorry to say that I would not recommend this book.
  • Virginia P. (Tallahassee, FL)

    Strangers in Budapest
    The jacket of this book calls the story "riveting" and "provocative." I would not go that far. Having been to Budapest and seen the communist era architecture as well as the absolutely stunning architecture of the earlier days, I felt it was a place I could return to over and over. I was surprised that the only feeling about the city I got from the author was that she did not like Budapest for her own personal reasons which she expressed through her character, Annie. She gave it a bad rap. Aside from that, I felt the characters with the exception of Edward Weiss were shallowly drawn. This story, with more development, could have been so much more than it was and I do not feel that I could recommend the book.
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