Recommended reads: ‘The Songs We Hide’ a stirring tribute to the strength of people

The Songs We Hide by Connie Hampton Connally

What we play for the world are the songs that the world wants to hear from us. The music that shapes the soul and reveals who we really are, those are The Songs We Hide, lovingly written about by Connie Hampton Connally.

Evoking stunning emotions, this author conducts a magnum opus of incredibly beautiful historical fiction. Her writing brings to life the people of stark, brutal, 1951 Hungary. Katalin and Peter are young adults and upon their shoulders they bear the brunt of post World War II, where survival is made so much more difficult by the brutal regime suffocating freedoms. As Katalin realizes, “during the war she had held out hope, because some day the war would end. Now the war was over, but what was there to hope for?”

Katalin was singing a wonderful duet with vibrant Robert, ‘Caro Mio Ben’, ‘My Dear Beloved.’ Now the same notes pained her to the core, as a loving single mother of her 1-year-old daughter, whose father had suddenly disappeared. The government and secret police made terrifying disappearances common place. Robert hadn’t even known he was going to be a father, and she had no idea which one of the too many horrifying places he was held. That’s if he was still alive.

Peter’s family had been rocked by the travesties of war, and then “The Collective” had confiscated what little their hard work had been able to achieve. They lived under the constant threat not only of starvation, but of their family’s separation and loneliness. Peter and his brothers had lost their mother, and their weary father had to try and carry on with his broken heart. Peter shyly sings his songs quietly to the beloved horse who works with them on what’s left of their beloved family farm. But they can’t make a living any longer on the farm alone. Peter must go to work in the city, where he meets Katalin who is waiting, for her beloved Robert. The lives of Katalin, Peter and the people around them in this story will deepen the reverberating drum beat of your heart.

The author, Connie Hampton Connally, became interested in Hungary’s turbulent history from her love of music. Through music she was inspired by the story of Zoltán Kodály, a 20th-century Hungarian composer who spread music in his nation despite totalitarianism and two world wars. This author writes such memorable turns to a phrase, and such noteworthy descriptions that range the full spectrum of human emotions from despair through hope. In The Songs We Hide she’s composed a stirring tribute to the incredible strength of people, in a brutal time in Hungarian history, and the desperate need to create hope.

As the crescendo builds, the reader will wonder, and hope — Can people withstand, can they be stronger than the hatred and betrayal surrounding them?

– By Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.

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