Best known for her classic book Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, Eleanor Perényi led a worldly life before settling down in Connecticut. More Was Lost is a memoir of her youth abroad, written in the early days of World War II, after her return to the United States. In 1937, at the age of nineteen, Perényi falls in love with a poor Hungarian baron and in short order acquires both a title and a struggling country estate at the edge of the Carpathians. She throws herself into this life with zeal, learning Hungarian and observing the invisible order of the Czech rule, the resentment of the native Ruthenians, and the haughtiness of the dispossessed Hungarians. In the midst of massive political upheaval, Perényi and her husband remain steadfast in their dedication to their new life, an alliance that will soon be tested by the war. With old-fashioned frankness and wit, Perényi recounts this poignant tale of how much was gained and how much more was lost.
Eleanor Perényi (1918-2009) was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Ellis Spencer Stone, a naval officer, and Grace Zaring Stone, a novelist. At the age of nineteen, she traveled to Europe with her mother and, while attending a diplomatic dinner with her parents in Budapest, met Zsigmond (Zsiga) Perényi, a young Hungarian baron. They married, moved to his family's neglected estate in Ruthenia, under Czech rule at the time, and began repairing the castle and restoring to working order the 750-acre farm and vineyard. With the outbreak of World War II, Zsiga was called to serve in the Hungarian army and persuaded Eleanor, then pregnant, to return to the United States. She settled in New York, raising her son and working as an editor for Harper's Bazaar, then as managing editor for Mademoiselle. Her first book, More Was Lost, was published in 1946, followed by a novel, The Bright Sword, in 1955. She achieved critical acclaim with Liszt: The Artist as Romantic Hero (1974), which was nominated for a National Book Award; however, her final book, Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden (1981), was Perényi's greatest success and is still considered a classic of garden writing.
J. D. McClatchy is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems. He has written four books of prose, including Sweet Theft, and edited dozens of other books. His many libretti have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, the San Francisco Opera, and other important houses around the world. He teaches at Yale University, where he also serves as the editor of The Yale Review.