One woman disposes of her problem fiancé, and soon all the other women in her remote Hungarian village want to do something similar.
Treading an uncertain line between tragedy and farce, British writer Gregson’s debut, based on a true story, can’t quite decide on its tone or chief narrative orientation. Is it a war story; a tale of domestic abuse; a witchy fairy tale; a rural parable of spiraling amorality? In remote Falucska, Sari Arany, the orphaned daughter of a respected healer, is taken in by Judit, an “angel maker”/abortionist/midwife. Sari is betrothed to gentle Ferenc, but World War I intervenes, the village men go to fight, Italian prisoners of war arrive and Sari falls for university lecturer Marco. When Ferenc returns, depressed and different, he kills Marco and beats Sari, so, for the sake of her unborn child, she decides to murder Ferenc with poison supplied by Judit. Soon a neighbor wants to use the same method to kill her violent husband, and then an epidemic of murder takes hold.
Gregson is a fluent, empathetic tale-spinner, but Sari has no depth and her formless story registers little impact.