The moment she discovers the existence of Richard, a long-lost relative, at Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Margaret McMullan begins an unexpected journey of revelation and connectivity as she tirelessly researches the history of her ancestors, the Engel de Jánosis. Propelled by a Fulbright cultural exchange that sends her to teach at a Hungarian University, Margaret, her husband and teenage son all eagerly travel to Pécs, the land of her mother’s Jewish lineage. After reaching Pécs, a Hungarian town both small and primarily Christian, Margaret realizes right then and there how difficult her mission is going to be.
Winner of the 2020 Nonfiction Mississippi Arts and Letters Award.
Sarton Women’s Book Award Finalist.
Honoree for the 2020 Bernard Brommel Award for Memoir, Society of Midland Authors.
Student Questions for “Where The Angels Lived”
Praise for Where The Angels Lived
Antisemitism is not dead; denial is strong. World leaders still plot and plan, blaming others when and where they can. Persecution and genocide are unfortunately still at work. Where the Angels Lived
is about remembering ancestors and their struggles and sacrifices. It’s about remembering what is decent and important in life, and holding it sacred. Read full review.
"Skillfully weaving together her family's challenges..., McMullan reveals a fascinating tale of a Jewish family's fall from the highest graces to the misery of the concentration camps. Her determination to fill out the missing information on Richárd's Page of Testimony at Yad Vashem is finally fulfilled, but not until her life, and identity, is forever changed. Gripping." Read full review.
This is more than a family memoir; this is a book about the importance of looking back, of remembering. Read full review.
The author discovers the history of self, a family and a nation that was lost and then arduously found. Her revelations about hidden Jewish lineage in Pécs, Hungary, are heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Read full review.
You will emerge from reading this memoir with a greater understanding of the destructive power of hate. Read full review.
Into this terrifying moment of severe intolerance in America, arrives this meticulously researched, soul-driven account of the generational trauma caused by another country that turned on and gave up its own...breathtaking.
McMullan's haunting, heartrending, and hopeful journey to remember and honor her family’s legacy…reminds us how connected we all are to our past. Read full review.
McMullan's heartrending, and haunting, heartrending, and hopeful journey to remember and honor her family’s legacy. In traveling to Pecs, Hungary and through her relentless research, McMullan is united with her unknown past, discovering enough details to see the essence of her long-lost relative, Richard Engel de Janosi, who died in 1944 at Mauthausen Concentration Camp. In remembering Richard, and her extended Engel de Janosi family, McMullan reminds us how connected we all are to our past. McMullan perceptively includes this quote by Sigmund Freud in her insightful story: 'Memories lie buried yet remain forceful enough to shape our lives.’ Read full review.
10 Ways of looking at Margaret McMullan and Where the Angels Lived
With apologies to Wallace Stevens
Read full review.
- Margaret McMullan is delightful to talk to.
- Her story about her visit to Yad Vashem will give you goosebumps.
- When she reads portions of her book, her voice carries the poignancy of her story.
- The photographs in her power point presentation are amazing. I kept wondering how she found them.
- Where the Angels Lived is part memoir, part family history, part Holocaust history, and part mystery.
- What better quest is there in life than trying to uncover the lost history of an unknown relative?
- Yes, this is about the Holocaust but there is hope in the book.
- This would be an amazing book club selection.
- McMullan’s writing is exquisite – detailed and luminous.
- Everyone should have the opportunity to meet and hear Margaret McMullan.
An amazing book club selection. McMullan’s writing is exquisite – detailed and luminous.
Read full review.
An amazing voyage of discovery. Read full review.
Millions of individuals were killed during the Holocaust, and many of their stories were lost. But one man's story was not. Read full review.
One of the most magical author events in our little shop's history. Read full review.
– Left Bank Books, Belfast, Maine
Where the Angels Lived is a beautifully crafted memoir that readers of history will particularly enjoy. Anyone with a fascination for discovering forgotten chapters of their own lives will relate to Margaret McMullan's quest for the story of her ancestors. The book also made for a thoughtful book club selection, stimulating interesting conversation about the writing as well as the featured characters. This is a wonderful book to put in the hands of readers.
Riveting reading. Read full review.
McMullan has done more than tell this story masterfully... the memoir's inevitable look at the gradual nature of totalitarianism's growth resonates today, as both the U.S. and Hungary experience right-wing resurgences.
It’s emotional – and yet, in the end filled with hope and love...I cannot add words or commentary to something so beautifully lived and written. Read full review.
It is impossible to read this richly textured story and not be deeply moved by the lost voices who rise from the dead to speak in these pages. They, and we, should be forever grateful for their resurrection painfully and lovingly wrought by Margaret McMullan.
McMullan beautifully pieces together a family history and the history of a country and its ethnic groups to create a stirring and highly informative narrative, full of information, wonderful wisdom and anecdotes, both sorrowful and joyful.
They are entrepreneurs, musicians, lovers, builders and fighters, who, without the author's painstaking research, would have been erased from history forever.
Like Edmund de Waal's Hare with the Amber Eyes
, McMullan pieces together the lost story of her forgotten ancestor and reminds us all how easy it is for humans to willfully ignore the murderous past and contemporary evil.
An impressive textual monument of the impact of Nazi genocide and the Shoah on individual lives and family, even three generations after the actual events.
My Jewish ancestors lived in the very same place and were also killed the same way. The similarities make me cry, the differences make me smile. Common fate—small comfort.
Where the Angels Lived
is a powerful testament of familial mourning as well as a vision of 20th century European history that is both searing and uplifting.
An absolutely riveting story by an utterly engaging narrator--a triumphant blend of honesty, insight, research and imagination.
Into this terrifying moment of severe intolerance in America, arrives this meticulously researched, soul-driven account of the generational trauma caused by another country that turned on and gave up its own. Margaret McMullan did not ask for the assignment that sent her and her family to Hungary to mourn an unknown family member lost to the Holocaust, but her radical courage, determination and stamina in the face of that assignment is breathtaking, insisting we pay attention, to the crimes of the past and our actions in the present, because, of course, it can happen here.