Rigorous Research

Hello Lovelies,

Well I’m excited to say that Lonely Hearts is really starting to come together! Even though I haven’t gotten past the first chapter, I have been doing copious amounts of research in order to find all the pieces of the puzzle. I have had to opportunity to explore the character of Rose a little more and also one of the supporting characters that has shaped Rose.

I have also shifted the time-line for the series, making Rose a little older when she meets Thomas and also bringing the series overall, closer to the beginning of WWII so the main story of Lonely Hearts is now beginning in February, 1935. This is now requiring even more research, as it is now three years later than the original beginning of Hearts Desire -the intended second book of the series, therefore shifting the entire series forward in time. Whilst I am still able to utilise much of the research I completed previously when beginning Heart’s Desire, I also must double check this research to ensure it is still valid in the time period I am focusing on.

I am also in the middle of researching Hungarian-Jewish history, I was at first thinking the particular character would have a typical Jewish-sounding name and speak Yiddish. How wrong I was! After much research I discovered that the Yiddish words I was intending to use were a different dialect to the one that Hungarian-Jews would have spoken (insert frustrated sigh here). So after trying to find a reliable list of Yiddish words in a dialect that Hungarian-Jews would have spoken, with no success, I went back to the drawing board. This is what I’ve come up with; the time frame I am looking at for this character is the time when Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the later half of the 1800s, the leaders of Hungary pretty much told the Jewish people that they needed to have surnames (as previously they did not) and become more “Magyarised” or more Hungarian. My husband (who is Hungarian, but not Jewish) also explained that although Jewish people were accepted in Hungary and they were allowed to freely practice their religion, animosity towards Jewish people was increasing due to their success in business (just one of many reasons), therefore Hungarian-Jewish people, although clearly Jewish and accepted as such, would often try not to draw attention to the fact that they were Jewish (if that makes sense). Thus they would often take Hungarian forms of Jewish names and speak mostly Hungarian and not a Hungarian-Yiddish dialect (insert sigh of relief). So thankfully, instead of struggling to find the correct Yiddish words, I am now free to use Hungarian words I already know and give the character a Hungarian name!

tailor scissor

Image from Flickr Creative Commons user trakygraves

So after coming to this conclusion through rigorous research and some “husbandly” help, I would like to introduce you all to József Szabó, a Hungarian-Jewish immigrant and a sort of adopted father to Rose. The name József is the Hungarian spelling of the English name Joseph (a common Jewish name) but pronounced with a ‘y’ sound at the beginning and a more rounded ‘o’ sound, the surname Szabó, means tailor in Hungarian and my research has indicated that when Jewish people were forced to choose surnames they often chose names that reflected their profession.

József and Rose met when she was fourteen, shortly after the death of her mother. József is a kind man, who is of average height with dark hair, pale skin and dark brown eyes. He is a strong man, who looks much younger than his years, but his eyes show a glimpse of the devastation he has experienced. József is a peaceful man and left Hungary during the the first World War to avoid forced conscription. At first he was planning to flee to America and start a new life, but somehow he found himself, along with his pregnant wife on a ship to Sydney, Australia. József’s wife and their unborn child passed away during the voyage from complications of the pregnancy, something which József always blames himself for. To him, Rosie is the daughter he should have had and they consider each other to be their family. The fact that Jószef is Jewish and Rose was raised as Anglican does not impact upon their relationship. They have mutual respect for each other’s beliefs and customs, even going as far to learning about each of their religions and culture with József teaching Rose about Jewish customs and Hungarian language and traditions. József is the owner of a tailor shop, which Rose also works in. József hopes to develop a line of “off the rack” items for men and women to be sold in his shop, pulling his business out of the aftermath of the Great Depression and propelling it into the future – this is where Thomas comes in. József is a very perceptive and observant man, so much so that Rosie jokes that he must be a mind-reader.

Now I have a small excerpt in which József realises that Rose is in love with Thomas and that she is going to leave, despite her feelings of loyalty towards József.



“He loves you, I can see it in his eyes, the way he looks at you. The question is though, do you love him back?” I glanced up at József, hoping that my eyes would betray my thoughts and feelings. “Ah I see édesem, well I am not about to stand in the way of love. Go and be with him.” I desperately wanted to be with Thomas, my heart was telling me to go to him but my feelings of loyalty towards József, a man who had been like a father to me, were holding me back, “But József, what about the shop, who will help you?” He smiled his crooked smile and shook his head at me, “Édesem, you are not the only hard-worker in all of Sydney, although I will probably need to hire two people to do your job, but I will manage. Now go you silly girl, be with the man who loves you.” I hugged József tightly as tears filled my eyes, “Thank you, I love you like you were my own father.”  As József held me tightly I knew he was holding back his own tears, “And you édesem, are the daughter I had hoped for. Now go, before I remember you are one-of-a-kind and I change my mind!”  

*Édesem (click here for pronunciation) is a term of endearment in Hungarian, similar to darling or sweetheart in English

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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