Connie Hampton Connally has loved music and the written word all her life, and many of her adult years she’s spent working in those fields as well. She holds a BA in English from the University of Washington and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. She’s published magazine stories and newspaper articles, worked as an editor and taught high school English and elementary music.
Through teaching music she discovered the work of Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, who uplifted his nation through decades of war, political oppression and social upheaval. Connie couldn’t resist this theme of creating beauty amidst hardship. She wrote The Songs We Hide as a result, and she is currently writing another novel set in Hungary.
Connie and her husband make their home in Tacoma, Washington. They travel frequently, since two of their three adult sons live on other continents. Because of her family and her characters, Connie has set her heart—and often her feet—in faraway places.
The Songs We Hide
A novel set in Cold War Hungary
In 1951, a grim hush has settled over Hungary. After a lost war and a brutal transition to communism, the people live under constant threat of blacklisting, property confiscation, arrest, imprisonment and worse. In this milieu of dread, the best land of Peter Benedek’s peasant family is seized and his life upended. Moving to Budapest for a manual labor job, Peter meets Katalin Varga, an unwed mother whose baby’s father has vanished, most likely at the hands of the secret police. Both Péter and Katalin keep their heads down and their mouths clamped shut, because silence is the only safety they know.
The two have something in common besides fear: they are singers whose very nature makes the silence unbearable. When Katalin starts giving Péter voice lessons, they take an intrepid step out of hiding by making music together. Little by little they tell each other what they cannot tell others. In their bond of trust, they find relief and unexpected happiness.
Yet the hurts and threats in their lives remain, waiting. As harsh reality assaults them again, is hope even possible? Facing their hardest trials yet, Peter and Katalin learn to carve dignity and beauty out of pain.
“Enriching and evocative, Connie Hampton Connally’s historical The Songs We Hide is about the redemptive potency of beauty, love and music . . . [It] resounds with grace and poignancy. It is a captivating masterpiece of historical fiction.” –Starred review, Foreword Reviews