Books: Rumanian

3 minute read

THERE IS MY HEART—Peter Neagoe— Coward-McCann ($2.50).

John Condreanu knew that he was different from the other boys in his Transylvanian village, because he had a very big navel and he was an orphan. When he fell in love with Marina and then saw that she and his best friend had no eyes for anyone else, that brought his differentness to a head. He announced that he was going to America.

He really intended to go. He said farewell to his family and friends, and set out. But he had not gone much of a piece along his lengthy road before he discovered that America was farther than he had thought it. When he got to the city and took the medical examination required of prospective immigrants, the doctor informed him he had an eye disease, would have to wait several months. John was not as cast down as he might have been, for already he had met new friends it would be hard to part with: good-hearted Anghel and his lovely wife Zamfira. Anghel asked John to come and stay with them till his eyes were cured, promised to keep him busy. Long after he was well enough to leave, John stayed on. Anghel grew to be as fond of him as if John were his son; John liked him too, but it was Zamfira that kept him.

Zamfira’s only unhappiness was that she was childless. She never suspected the fault might be Anghel’s, as it was. Though she saw John falling in love with her she decided not to cross that bridge till she had to. At last Anghel, in an agony of unselfishness, suggested to both of them that John give her the longed-for baby. When they took him at his word his reaction was equally agonizing. By this time John was ready to do anything that would keep him near Zamfira—even willing to marry Zamfira’s sister, who was more than willing. It looked as if America was farther away from John than ever. But when his beloved died in childbirth he remembered at last that he was on his way.

Peter Neagoe writes about his fellow-Rumanians in English. Though his lan guage has a few traces of foreign accent it reads like a good translation. His stories, almost invariably peopled by simple characters, are simple, tonic, vivid. Earthy but not Scandinavian, he indulges in no metaphysical brooding. His sensibility is stoutly laced in by sense. Though he is a respecter of tragic facts he likes also the unbuttoned bellylaugh.

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