It’s out – and proud

A Stake in Transylvania – the English edition of my book first published in Romanian translation (Din Liverpool în Carpati) – is now published, at long last.

British Ambassador Andrew Noble, Bucharest, Romania, Arabella McIntyre-Brown, A Stake in Transylvania, book launch
British Ambassador Andrew Noble and author Arabella McIntyre-Brown at the book launch on 26th September

The book was launched with a reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Bucharest, where the guests from business, the book world, the British community and friends heard Ambassador Andrew Noble extol the book as a paean to rural Transylvania that will play a part in lifting the reputation of the area and attracting more visitors.

But what intrigued him about the book was – woven into the colourful stories of life in a mountain village – the candid discussion of mental illness, ageing, and living alone. The challenges are all too common, but not much shared.

In response to readers’ comments that the book reveals very personal details that seemed quite shocking, I told the guests: “Menopause, bereavement, getting older – they’re part of every woman’s life; it’s not our fault, there’s nothing we can do stop the process – why shouldn’t we talk about them?”

In her report of the event, well-known Bucharest journalist Alison Mutler said: “The 330-page read is a fascinating and honest study of her own state of mind, the seasons, animals (both pets and wild creatures), fences, making hay and naturally the locals and other folk she encounters. Arabella read out loud an excerpt about sheep wandering into her garden and home which delighted and amused the British and Romanian audience at Thursday’s reception.”

Mr Noble believes the book will become a bestseller. “Move over Peter Mayle,” he said, referring to the British writer who wrote “A Year in Provence” in 1990 which became an international bestseller and was made into a TV series.

I’m very grateful to the Ambassador and Mrs Noble for launching the book with such élan, and to the guests for braving filthy weather and Bucharest traffic that was worse than usual.

More about the book, and where to buy it here.

 

Tourist sight is my neighbours’ life

Charming short article in The Guardian, by Rena Effendi, about the living tradition of haymaking as part of the still-extant peasant lifestyle of Transylvania. This picture (also by Effendi) was taken in Maramures, where the haystacks are tall and thin.

Maramures haystacks

Here where I live, in southern Transylvania, the haystacks are fat and stable to withstand tougher winds.

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Another article, this time in the Financial Times, suggests that Transylvania is the new Tuscany. An Italian living in the Saxon villages is extolling the ancient ways of Saxon Transylvania as being reminiscent of the old Tuscan lifestyle.

Candour or caution?

RJ headline & pic

Thanks to the Romania Journal for some keen questions in yesterday’s interview. I opted to be candid, since cautious answers make for an anodyne read…

What do you think – should I have responded more neutrally?

Digi24 comes to tea

Beautiful TV presenter Ioana Mihalca and her expert crew came to see me in Magura last month, and made a charming 8-minute film from their afternoon’s visit. They also talked to my neighbour Roxana, and my friends from Zarnesti, Dan and Luminita Marin.

The resulting film was broadcast on the show Bonton at the end of November.

What do you think?

 

‘Gem-like story contains vital lesson’

Iulia Benze sent us a wonderful review. Obviously a great dog lover, Iulia sees the book as a way of teaching a vital lesson: why compassion and care for animals is important. 

“I believe Floss The Lost Puppy is extremely practical and it should be the beginning of a series which humanizes stray animals, creating heartfelt stories, educating people to be more compassionate towards nature and fellow creatures sharing their environment.

“Overwhelmingly the book brought back memories of animals in distress. I read it on a stormy dark Sunday morning and after that I immediately went out and started searching for homeless dogs to feed and to soothe. I found 5, managed to help 3 – the ones who didn’t run away from me.”

But Iulia also remarked on the emotional journey that the heroine goes through.

“I loved her journey in that magical rural mountainous place: from being afraid of dogs to absolutely loving them. She became a brave little girl, sacrificing her own comfort and selfishness. I think it is a very important lesson to learn: generosity, friendship and conquering your fear. This story contains a deep challenging lesson, making the narration not only for children, but also for adults.”

Cooling, calming storm

Yesterday we had a bit of a thunderstorm. Lots of amazing hail, with stones the size of hazelnuts cracking and clattering on the roof, the windows and doors, bouncing or pinging off surfaces after landing at speed. Then the hail stopped and the rain lessened, and we had some time of distant thunder and lightning, while the animals and birds and insects kept going, and the rain fell on millions of leaves. For friends in hot, humid Bucharest and other cities, it’s a few moments of cool country weather to calm the overheated mind. Aaaaahhhhhh….

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A month ago… on 20th April…

The thunderstorm today brought the temperature down, sure enough. But it’s Spring, and it rains. that’s fine.

But it was also Spring exactly a month ago, on 20th April. And this is what my garden looked like then. April. Late.