Marc Fitten’s second novel follows the difficulties of a middle-aged woman working a successful neighborhood restaurant in Hungary, rife with romantic entanglements, magical cooking, and a fearsome gourmet food critic. Elza is a complex and flawed woman, yet strong-willed and fascinating. Her journey through her middle-age is believable and engrossing, even when Elza makes foolish choices based on emotional reactions. The setting of the Hungarian city of Delibab is beautifully drawn and detailed giving the reader a taste of a different world. Part fable, part life-affirming story, Elza’s Kitchen is a beautifully-written, lovely tale about a real, complex, independent woman.
Judith is tormented by her schoolmates; one boy in particular, because she lives alone with her father and they belong to an evangelical religion that believes armageddon is imminent and that it is their mission to save others. She copes with her torment by creating another world in her bedroom made from rubbish and discarded items that she called the land of decoration after a passage from Ezekiel. It is a diorama of the universe (including miniature planets, oceans, factories, rabbits and dragons) that she’s built in her room out of orange peels, soda caps, twigs, pipe cleaners and other odds and bits. But one day, after a mysterious, perhaps divine voice, begins to speak with her, her favors change, and she finds she has great power, and with that power comes repercussions that she cannot imagine. The Land of Decoration is a tough read, wrenching our hearts and keeping us reading to discover Judith’s ultimate fate. it’s a page turner and an emotional roller coaster.