Olympic champion Valerie Gyenge's books are work in progress
23 February 2010
Valerie Gyenge, Hungarian Olympic champion in swimming (1952), has made her home in Canada since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics (see her story on our WEBPAGE). During the last few years she has been busy not only with photography, which she has enjoyed doing most of her life, but has also been writing mostly about her own life and the life of people who influenced her. She has sent us the following description of her books and of why she writes.
Over the past 10 years I have written three novels, The Way They Were, The Promise, Twilight Years and, being a photographer, I published a photo book My Hungary containing the poems of Gyula Illyes . Two of my novels and the photo book were published in Budapest in my native language, Hungarian; (Két Asszony Élete, Igéret, Hazám).
I was fortunate to live an eventful and good life, and upon reaching my later years I decided to write about the experiences. It took countless writing courses, owing to the fact that English is my second language; it took me many years to be brave enough to begin writing, having much trust in the editor’s expertise as well as being extremely patient. My hope is that readers will find the stories entertaining and broadening for their own outlook on life.
My newly published book in 2008, Twilight Years, is a novel about the senior years of four women.
Reaching a certain age myself, I missed books about the fast moving years of the lives of women, especially after the milestone of the sixtieth-year. Among many, the problems emphasized are those of loneliness and love and I attempted to express my feelings and beliefs on these topics through this novel. It is my belief that ageing is a natural process. As a result, we should try to make the best of it and not be afraid. We can’t change the nature of life; so we should really just go along with it and enjoy it. Every age has its importance, joys, beauty, and happiness and we must cope with the passing years as well as work towards making the twilight years sparkle.
This story is about four women friends scattered around the world. However, they are bonded by their childhood friendship and by a vacation at lake Como, Italy. Each woman lives in a separate area of the Globe; Toronto, Ontario; Sydney, Australia; London, England; and Budapest, Hungary. The three who emigrated from their homeland in their twenties were forced to cope with a new world, as well as its culture, and had to manage the construction of a new life from nearly nothing.
Twilight Years is a story about friendship that stretches across seas and continents. These women throughout their lives support each other through difficulties, in love and loneliness, and in turn they teach each other to attain the most serene happiness: that life must be lived fully, no matter what your age.
The Way They Were (Published in 2000)
There were two influential, extraordinary women present in my life (beside my mother). I knew them from my youth and was very close to them. At the very least, I can say that these women had a great influence on my life; I loved both of them very dearly and still miss them to this day. They passed away in their late eighties, and as a result, I decided to write their story, to honor their memory.
These women were sisters, however their personalities were as far from each other as possible. They survived two wars, the holocaust, as well as two revolutions, traveled and lived all over the world. They loved, were loved, suffered greatly, and eventually reunited in Canada. In their later life love continued to be their greatest challenge.
The Promise (Published in 2005)
In 1956 thousands of Hungarians fled their homeland for the purpose of freedom. They left, risking their life, to acquire a better life for both themselves and their children; and to have limitless opportunity for earning their living the way they wanted; free from the restrictions of the communist rule. They braved the Russian guns and the minefields to follow their dreams. Luckily, I myself, did not have to endure those dangers, I arrived to Toronto on a comfortable airplane from Melbourne, Australia.
The Promise is based on a true story, my story, however I wrote it with a writer’s free imagination. It is a fictional-autobiography about the difficulties of establishing a new life in a strange country where you don’t know anybody but the man you love. This novel outlines the struggle with homesickness, happiness, hopes and disappointments, as well as finding the courage to build a new life.