Hollywood Balaton

To Catch A Thief On The Hungarian Riviera

Fiction - Womens
157 Pages
Reviewed on 01/18/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Hollywood Balaton, my third novel, is based on several trips I took to the lovely Lake Balaton in Hungary and is very loosely based on some historical events from the 1970s, in particular the infamous fortieth birthday party of Elizabeth Taylor in Budapest, which allowed me to indulge in some of my personal Hollywood obsessions.

Although it is written in the present as a romantic mystery, it is sprinkled with a dusting of retro and with a degree of light-hearted and glamorous espionage thrown in.

I very much had Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief on my mind when I wrote it.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jaycee Allen for Readers' Favorite

In Claire Doyle’s Hollywood Balaton, the narrator, Laura, a woman of almost fifty, disillusioned with modern life and contemporary English values in Brighton and traumatized by a terror attack in Paris, arrives in Hungary. She goes to live in Levendula, the family house of Max, her new lover. But Max, detained in Budapest by his mother’s illness, is absent, and it is up to Laura to discover the large mysterious Lake Balaton that is so central to Hungarian identity in the western part of the country. The vanished communist regime still throws its (albeit pale) shadow over the lives of the people she meets, and she finds herself caught up in the mystery of a vanished manuscript. To pass the time waiting for her lover, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous lives led by Max’s actress mother and writer father.

Claire Doyle has done a beautiful job of painting Balaton’s landscape (too often ruined by tourism) with its original magic, mystery, and romance. The colors, odors and the entire atmosphere are intense, and the images of the past with its vanished characters, faded stars, and forgotten glory are a delight. That Max seems a less than ideal lover and his extreme reactions incomprehensible only add to the story’s mystery. And whether or not we agree with Laura’s values, we are definitely rooting for her. Hollywood Balaton: To Catch A Thief On The Hungarian Riviera is an intriguing and interesting quality read.

Dab Reader

I thoroughly enjoyed this short read. Exquisite language and well-written prose along with a good story. I have passed through Hungary a few times so was pleased to learn more about the country. A story of love mixed with intrigue dating back to the 1970s (my era). It's a short book and can be read in a couple of hours. Recommended.


In cruising through Amazon, the premise of this book caught my interest: what if you fell in love during a terror attack. I had just finished reading a book about a woman, a concentration camp victim, who married her Nazi guard when the war was over and found it a captivating read. Although not the same premise, the themes are similar re: love during tragic events. A short book, less than 200 pages, it was a nice pick for a holiday weekend to sit and enjoy. 49 year-old Laura struggles with ennui and to rid herself of the boredom she vacations to Paris. There she meets Max, a good-looking Hungarian and feels a “deep connection.” Intensifying this connection is the fact that they were surrounded by gunshots in lockdown. While there Max mentions another place, on the Hungarian Riviera. As the story progresses, Laura goes there, to Levendula, and stumbles upon a spy ring that heightens the story tension. The turns in the plot kept the read interesting. Wanting to know will their relationship sustain and what happens as mysteries unfold kept the pace of this story moving at a fast pace. I was glad I came upon this book and read it. It did not disappoint.


Lake Balaton and the characters of Füred make this an interesting read. While the love interest is an important part of the story, the location is an important character, too. It is so easy to get lost in the beauty of this area. The veterinarian and the monk are enjoyable characters, my favorites. Laura finally finds what she needs as her journey find closure in this wonderful place.


This story has interesting characters and an intriguing storyline. The storyline is well written and captivating, with mysteries from the past, life in the present, beautiful settings, and some romance. I really enjoyed this story.

I read and reviewed this book with no obligation.

happy reader

Well I really want to live in Balaton now! What a beautiful dreamy place, innocence and richness ooze through the pages of this delightful book. A bit of a romance a bit of a mystery and a look back at a tiny bit of Hungary’s past. Truly delightful, Visiting Balaton is now on my bucket list.