Honour and Duty
Set against the backdrop of World War II and the invasion of Hungary, the life of Countess Ilona Edelsheim Gyulai outstrips fiction in this story of romantic happiness, tragedy, abduction, conspiracy, imprisonment and eventual sanctuary.
When she marries Stephen Horthy - the son of Admiral Miklós Horthy, Regent of Hungary - Countess Ilona is swept to the very forefront of Hungarian society. After her husband's untimely (and mysterious) death, the young widow plays an increasingly important role as the Regent's confidante. She gives an intimate insight into the characters of the Regent and his wife and sons: the depth of their love for their country and the deep sense of honour and duty they feel towards their people. Her eyewitness account of much of what happened at the very highest level of government in Hungary during the war years and under the German occupation is an unique contribution to understanding the truth of why Hungary became Germany's 'unwilling satellite', and what part the Regent actually played in relation to the fate of Jewish and Polish people living in Hungary at that time.
Ilona's story continues to fascinate, not only as one follows how her life moves from caring for her young son and her parents-in-law in post-war Germany and Portugal to remarriage and living through unsettled times in Iraq, but also because another theme, quietly underpinning much of how she relates to circumstances in the first part of the book, now emerges as a keynote in her life. This is her finding of a deep and genuine spiritual fulfilment, which enables her to make connections with the truth inherent in both Christianity and Islam; a moving and life-enhancing awakening that is relevant to anyone concerned about the seemingly irreparable breach between these religions today. This is a memoir of an extraordinary woman.