This Hungarian family dynasty tale begins just before WW I when two beautiful aristocrats, the Ferenc girls, Malie and Eva, set out for their plain cousin Kati's birthday ball; and it ends in 1956 as the two elderly sisters, battered by war and loss, relive their youth. They are about to welcome Janos, the suitor of Eva's daughter--son of one of their former peasants and a Communist official. The ravages of wars, revolutions, occupations--Nazi and Russian--are viewed through the family fortunes. Eva and Malie both lose their first loves; Malie's man is killed; Eva's dashing lover suffers a mental breakdown and will become a fascist who informs on Eva, Malie, Kati, their parents, two husbands and children, because of Jewish marriages. Some die in labor camps, and some survive, thanks to Janos. But at the close, even Janos begins to rebel at the authoritarian Communist party which he had fought for during the war. Although offering a certain clarity this genre often lacks--you can keep track of the players without a scorecard--the even, earnest narration does not really offer much hard insight into either the times or the complexities of human adaptation to the agonies of change and devastation. However, a potentially successful popular effort even if heavy to carry on the subway.