You Cannot Forbid the Flower

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
206 Pages
Reviewed on 04/25/2024
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Author Biography

Elizabeth Lukács Chesla is the daughter of Hungarian refugees and a mother of three. Her award-winning fiction debut, You Cannot Forbid the Flower (2023), is available through Tolsun Books ( She writes, edits, and teaches from the suburbs of Philadelphia, where she was born and raised.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers' Favorite

You Cannot Forbid the Flower by Elizabeth Lukács Chesla is a gripping historical fiction novel, drawing inspiration from the tumultuous events of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution through the eyes of the author's father, Marton. This evocative narrative artfully blends fact and fiction, weaving a tapestry of Marton's experiences as a rebel group commander with composite characters and imagined dialogues. Poetry by Edith Bone adds an artistic layer to the story. Set against the backdrop of post-World War II Hungary, the novel delves into Marton's teenage love, the ravages of war, and the loss of his family's belongings. As the Hungarian people rise up against communism, the book vividly portrays the harrowing struggles, with countless lives lost to violence, hunger, and injury. Marton's journey takes him to America, where he forges a new life, facing personal trials, marriages, and the challenges of being a widower. With unaltered excerpts from historical documents and a comprehensive timeline, You Cannot Forbid the Flower is a poignant exploration of one man's resilience and the indomitable spirit of a nation in the face of adversity.

Author Elizabeth Lukács Chesla’s storytelling seamlessly weaves together fact and fiction, breathing life into the characters while incorporating imagined dialogues. You Cannot Forbid the Flower is a profoundly moving and exquisitely crafted novel that transports readers into the heart of the Hungarian Revolution. The inclusion of poetry adds an emotional layer to the narrative, enhancing the story's overall impact. The book's incorporation of historical documents and a comprehensive timeline adds depth and authenticity to the narrative, making it a powerful and educational read. Chesla's novel is a literary triumph that lingers in the heart and mind long after turning the final page. I recommend this incredible novel to all adults.

Gabriella Harrison

In You Cannot Forbid the Flower, Elizabeth Lukács Chesla weaves together fiction and nonfiction in an insightful and graphic narration of the Hungarian Revolution and the Soviet Union’s gruesome invasion and domination of Hungary for almost fifty years. She tells of Hungary’s history clothed in oppression and perseverance through the eyes of her biological father and the many “fathers” who fought for the future of Hungary and were brutally murdered. This book pays tribute to the accounted-for and unaccounted-for lives lost in the struggle. It recounts the many ways in which people sacrificed their lives to ensure the continuance of the nation of Hungary. Resistance took many forms, such as peaceful protests, violent protests, sabotaging equipment, helping people escape, sharing resistance leaflets to educate people and inspire hope, etc. Whatever the case, many were united in the struggle for freedom and democracy.

You Cannot Forbid the Flower is a well-written book that wields true and imagined stories, historical documents, and poems to vivify the characters and their desperate struggle to be free. The prose is evocative and haunting in its raw depiction of the atrocities committed against the Hungarians as they helplessly witnessed the crumbling of their country and the snatching of two-thirds of their territory when around thirteen million Hungarians suddenly found themselves as minorities in foreign countries. Elizabeth Lukács Chesla expertly captures the feelings of isolation and abandonment experienced by Hungarians in the absence of the much-needed help they begged for from the Western world. Everyone interested in history will find this book insightful. Sensitive readers should beware due to its graphic nature.

K.C. Finn

You Cannot Forbid the Flower is a work of fiction in the historical, political drama, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is best suited to mature readers owing to scenes and references to violence, sexual violence, and sex. Penned by author Elizabeth Lukács Chesla, this is a poignant journey into history, love, and personal identity. The story unfolds against the backdrop of World War II and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, following the life of a young Hungarian forced to flee his homeland due to political upheaval. Chesla artfully weaves together various literary elements, including stories, poems, historical documents, and memoirs, to craft a narrative that tells the tale of her father, a Freedom Fighter. The narrative meanders between the past and present, fiction and history, blending elements of myth and reality, much like a collection of cherished memories.

Author Elizabeth Lukács Chesla's writing is captivating and immersive, bringing to life the complex experiences of her father as he seeks love, liberty, and meaning amid the tumultuous events of his time. As a reader, I found the book to be both enlightening and emotionally resonant. It offered a deep understanding of the challenges faced by those who lived through these turbulent times, and the portrayal of love, courage, and loss is masterfully depicted. I was also really impressed by the mood and atmosphere of the settings, bringing history to life with realistic detail but also such a powerful emotional mood of the eras the reader passes through. Chesla's strong narrative voices showcase the power of storytelling in keeping the memories of the past alive and vibrant, delivering a strong sense of character that never wavers and endears the heroics of the tale to readers from start to end. Overall, You Cannot Forbid the Flower is a highly recommended read and a celebration of heritage, homage, and a beautifully written narrative that transcends borders and time.