My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Smuggled is a beautiful, inspiring novel set predominantly in post-WWII Romania and Hungary. It tells the story of Eva Farkas, who is smuggled out of Hungary and away from the Nazis as a five-year-old during WWII. Across the border in rural Romania she is renamed Anca Balaj and raised by her Uncle and Aunt. After spending most of her life as Romanian Anca, she eventually returns to Hungary after the fall of the Soviet Union to reclaim her identity as Eva.
Forced to hide Eva Farkas for almost half a century, Anca Balaj becomes a survivor: She survives the war, the Nazis and the Communists who took her family, and a string of interesting, greedy men, who are for Anca simply a means to an end. As the pages of history turn, Anca's circumstances rob her of the chance to find lasting happiness: Fleeting moments of joy seemingly always end in tragedy. She lives in the moment, taking each day as it comes, yet despite this she is never selfish or cruel. Anca is admirable in the face of adversity, consistently showing compassion and kindness.
It is when she returns to Hungary in her middle age as Eva Farkas that her life is transformed. No longer relying on others for her survival, Eva's fear of having lived her life as a hidden Jew with fake Romanian papers finally subsides, and she is free to face the new world with hope. Eva is not Anca: Eva is a Jew and proclaims it. Eva is Hungarian by birth and admits it. Eva is proud of her heritage and her history, and through this recognition she is finally able to leave Anca behind and move forward in true love and happiness.
**Received as an ARC through NetGalley. Many thanks to the author and the publisher for allowing me to read and review this novel: It is a wonderfully heart-warming story.
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