God is Late
A suspenseful novel about life in Hungary before the recent rebellion by one who knows what it was really like because she was there. In I Am Fifteen - And I Don't Want To Die this beautiful and talented author told the story of her own dramatic experiences in Hungary during and after the war. In this, her first novel, she tells what happens to a gay, frivolous woman, born only to give and receive pleasure, under the crushing, implacable Communist regime.
No one up to now has so vividly presented the lives of ordinary people under Communist rule in the satellite countries. This enthralling novel will shock you with its immediacy and touch you with its portrait of all-too-human men and women desperately struggling to survive under a totalitarian regime.
Since the war Gaby, her husband, and hated mother-in-law have been living on borrowed time - and they know it. Although, they have an apartment in Budapest, although Gaby's husband runs the Lyric Theater, and Gaby herself still can afford an occasional new dress and trip to the beauty parlor, they live in constant fear. A word from the new Commissar of the theater can destroy them. But he is attracted to Gaby - her delicate blondness has overcome his distaste for her bourgeois origins. And though she fears him, she dares not discourage him, nor does her husband dare take notice of the affair. Their very lives depend on its continuance.
When life in Budapest becomes too much for Gaby, she escapes on a visit to her sister, Anna, in the country. Once there, however, she is afraid to talk freely even with Anna, or Anna with her. Each fears the other has become a Communist. And so both women wait - and hope - only to have the impersonal malevolent state finally bring the problems of both their families to an inescapable solution.
© E.P. Dutton & Co. et Christine Arnothy
The New York Times, 25 février 1957
"A short and brilliant description of the conditions that drove the Hungarians to their heroic revolt. As social reporting in terms of individual lives God Is Late is excellent. But it is more than that. It is also a technically adroit work of fiction that brings a half dozen major characters to vivid life. And it is a singularly austere, almost a harsh, novel because Miss Arnothy has deliberately chosen the hard way. It would have been easy for her to arouse pity for the plight of admirable and sympathetic people. Instead she has written about a group of weak, petty, frivolous and spiteful people. None of her characters is likable, but all are so human - so real and so interesting - that one becomes absorbed in their tragic stories. (…) It must be enough to say that Christine Arnothy is an artist in fiction who can write of a small part of the world's agony with cool restraint and an almost objective detachment. (…) God Is Late is a convincing demonstration that Christine Arnothy is one of the most interesting young writers in Europe."
The New York Herald Tribune Book Review, 24 février 1957
"Young Christine Arnothy has now written in her first novel an unpretentious, but subtly excoriating account of a handful of middle-class people trying to keep afloat in the treacherous waters of the Hungarian Communist regime in the first years after the war. Today, when people all over the world are pronouncing the name of Hungary with the passionate accents of terror and awe, Miss Arnothy's little book could scarcely be more opportune. (…) What is unusual about Miss Arnothy's book is the way she contrasts the triviality of daily life with the terror that hangs over it. That the characters in God Is Late have no heroic mold, but on the contrary are the only too obviously recognizable children of Adam and Eve gives the book just the twist it needs to convince us. In God Is Late, the picture of corruption and degradation, artificially and consciously brought about by a system designed for that sole purpose, is more frightening, more sinister than any anti-Communist tract - no matter how explicit - could hope to be."
© Christine Arnothy