“I Kiss Your Hands Many Times”, by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák is the story of two families in Hungary. The story begins with the backdrop of late nineteenth century Hungary. It reveals the history of the Manfred Weiss family, a Jewish aristocratic family in Hungary as the direct result of the patriarch’s great success in industry, so new to Hungary. It also tells the story of the Szegedy-Maszák family, also well situated in Hungary through their artistic, intellectual and military endeavors and positions. The book reveals through Marianne how the two worlds of these families became intertwined. It is a read through the complications of the two World Wars and the consequences of each to the family and its various members.
It is the recounting of her parents’ lives before and after WWII. What an eye opener it was for her to actually see members of her family whom she had previously viewed by only paintings or photographs in their American home. During her first visit to Hungary in 1978 with her parents, it was a revelation to see her parents with a different façade in their former country than in their adopted land.
It was through these beginnings, as well as reading her parents’ diaries after their deaths, that Marianne was able to put the puzzle pieces together and create the tableau of her ancestry. It was through the translation of letters written to her mother by her father that Marianne realized that against the backdrop of all these facts emerged a story she never realized, a tremendous love story between her parents.