“The Budapest Artists’ Club” by Claire Doyle #BookReview #LiteraryFiction #Hungary #Budapest

The Budapest Artists’ Club

The Budapest Artists' Club

“The Budapest Artists’ Club” takes place over two separate trips to Budapest, one on the brink of the new millennium, one almost twenty years later. In her first trip to Budapest, Laura loses her boyfriend but gains musical skills, and is caught up in a plot to switch out a viola under its keeper’s nose. Although her time in Budapest is full of problems, Laura nonetheless falls in love with the city. She returns almost two decades later in search of some of that same magic, and maybe love.

“The Budapest Artists’ Club” captures the flavor of that turn-of-the-millennium excitement, and of Central-Eastern European cities then. I’ve never been to Budapest but have always wanted to go; reading the book reminded me of how much I’ve missed traveling, and by the time I was done, I was already mapping out potential itineraries in my head.

This is not a long or difficult book, but it has a complicated structure, intercutting the two different time lines, so it requires a little bit of attention in that way. It combines aspects of “women’s fiction” with the faint hit of a Cold War thriller in the viola-switching plot, and also has a number of musings on the current state of Europe. Some readers might not appreciate that, but for me they were the best part of the book, and I found myself highlighting several of them. While “The Budapest Artists’ Club” is not heavy reading, it provides more food for thought than a lot of other books out there.

I got this book through a giveaway, and my copy had several minor but still noticeable typos in it, perhaps because the version I read was still in draft form. Although they did not materially impinge on my enjoyment of the book, I still would have liked to see it presented in a more polished manner. Still, that’s a minor caveat, and overall readers interested in Central-Eastern Europe or just travel stories in general are likely to find a lot to enjoy here.

You can get the book on Amazon here.

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