My very favourite tree – the magnificent Allerton Oak in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park – has been named England’s Tree of the Year, and will be in the running for Europe’s tree of the year in 2020. That oak has seen some action, dating back to before the Norman Conquest in 1066, so is older than the city that surrounds it.
In 2008 I chose the Oak as my favourite spot to be photographed by Dan Kenyon, for his book ‘Liverpool Sung & Unsung’ – portraits of assorted scoundrels and heroes of the city for its year as European Capital of Culture. Fun, isn’t it?
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.
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.
I’ve just found this video from the Romanian Cultural Institute’s event at the 2018 London Book Fair. I was very much the easy-reading grit in the academic literary oyster… My bit starts 1 hr 11 mins in.
I plan to write more, to give an airing to various aspects of Romania’s book world – not just to give readers a better idea of how much value they get for their 40 lei, but to spot opportunities in the publishing world and to highlight good practice and book world stars. What do you think of the article? I’d love to read your candid comments.
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.