Ambassadors and presidents at Bookfest


AMB at Bookfest green hatOne of each, anyway. After a lively talk at the 2019 Bookfest in Bucharest, came an entirely unexpected bonus. I was still signing books at the UK Stand, where I’d been one of their special guest authors, when the buzz went round that the President was on his way. I thought it might be worth hanging around a little longer.

The British Ambassador, Andrew Noble, noticed that I was lurking in the background (hard to be inconspicuous in the hat I was wearing), and was kind enough to introduce me to Klaus Iohannis, Romania’s very tall President.

In response to Mr. Noble’s brief outline of my story as a British migrant, the President’s response was short and sweet.

‘Impressive!’ he said as he shook my hand. Then, to my great surprise, he recognised me. “Is it possible that I’ve seen you in a documentary?” he asked. “It’s possible,” I replied.

Ambo, Pres, AMB

‘Maeve Binchy at her best…’

This morning I had a wonderful review of Stake from Kendall Peet, principal of the International British School of Bucharest.

“From the very get go, A Stake in Transylvania promises to be a great read, immediately drawing you in with its intoxicating mix of familiarity and unadulterated honesty, spiced up with a healthy portion of British wit. Always an endearing combination. I’m only 70 pages in and I already feel like we’re the best of friends. One of the truest measures of good writing. Its Maeve Binchy at her best, with endearing imperfections.”

A Stake in Transylvania_AMB_Instagram 1080X1080

Autumn almanac

A good moment to show off Magura’s October jewels. The glorious fire along the road to the village, set against an azure sky.

Review round-up

I’ve been looking through the reviews of the book to date. I wish I’d recorded all the nice things that readers have told me, but in all truth, I have only had three negative comments. This could be that Romanians are too kind and courteous to tell me the bad stuff, of course.

One English chap disliked the book, noticing only the bits about illness (physical and mental) and dysfunctional families. A Romanian woman didn’t care for the ‘several hundred pages’ about animals which she felt could have been ditched. And a male reviewer wrote, quite rightly, that my writing style is light, somewhat journalistic. But I didn’t get the impression that he meant it as a compliment.

I’m grateful for constructive criticism and opinion, even if it’s negative – as long as it’s about the book and not personal abuse. Even Harry Potter has his anti-fan club.

But here are my favourite bits of feedback that I’ve had from readers and book bloggers. Do please add your own feedback here as a comment.

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Book bloggers:

George Hari Popescu, I recommend the book because it is an amazing work of ethnography (you will appreciate the descriptions of how the villagers make weddings or celebrate the big days of the year) and a sincere and colourful confession of a woman who has managed to overcome challenges in her life. The book looks like a collection of sketches, but the events come together beautifully, to create the general picture of the author’s separation from her native country and her integration into the Romanian village. Arabella McIntyre Brown combines evocation with observation and lyrical description.”

DorinaDanila: What I liked

– the characters, picturesque and very believable, described with a great sense of detail and sometimes irony and even self-irony (not even the author is exempt)

– very realistic way in which the author captures and describes the world of the Romanian village, with good and bad

– description of the nature of Transylvania

– the positive, engaging, sometimes funny, tone of story.

Georgiana Ciofoaia: Arabella’s writing conquers. Drawing a striking balance holds intrigue but each chapter has its source of comedy, tragedy or the extraordinary.What I love most is the power of the images that Arabella McIntyre-Brown manages to draw in my imagination.

Recenzii de carti: A person, regardless of nationality, has a Romanian soul when she speaks in this way about our country.



Silviu Schuster, Germany: “You lend us your sharp eyes and understanding. You made me ask some deep questions about myself, my life, my deeds. And I do love all this in a good book. You put the very delicate mirror of truth in front of our eyes. Your book gives us hope in a world where we have lost heaven.”

Luiza Pearson, Somerset: “Your chapter on Ginny was painful to read,  powerful and compelling; the reader joins you every step of the way as you navigate the darkest of times.  I felt it all. Likewise with the parrot! My God, I would have been a lot ruder than you were!!

Diana Maria Voicu: “I found myself immersed into a dialogue with Arabella about solitude, the energy that comes from living close to nature, the joy of the sounds of the forest. Her descriptions and stories, the details about neighbours and animals should rightfully qualify her as a contributor to the branding of the area. A real painter, in touch with the pure essence of things and beings.”

Julia Campbell, London“The quality of your writing is top-notch and I adore the naturalness of your use of metaphor and your precise punctuation, which gives your writing such a lovely flow.






Romania at the London Book Fair

A prestigious event at the 2018 London Book Fair was the Romanian Cultural Institute’s evening at Waterstones. On a distinguished panel of professors and a celebrated poet, I was very much the easy-reading grit in the academic literary oyster. My bit starts at 1hr 11mins in. panel-at-waterstones-april-2019

Candour or caution?

What do you think? Opt to be safe or take a risk and be honest?

Arabella McIntyre-Brown

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?

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Nine years today…

8th July 2010


My poor little car rolled into Magura, loaded to the gunnels, bringing me to the village as the newest resident. We trundled across Europe for 8 days, after leaving London SE1 on 1st July, taking the scenic route and having adventures in six countries.

The house was nowhere near ready, even for camping in.

And it was years before every room was habitable. But I had my books and other comforts, and I acquired cats.

IMG_6939First, skinny kitten Hobbs, who blackmailed me for biscuits and tins of food.

Then she became Mama Hobbs, producing three kittens in May 2011. Mouse, Buster and George grew to become handsome and all bigger than their mum. Officially the happiest cats in Romania.

I only survived thanks to my neighbours, who have been kind and tolerant of the odd English writer in their midst: they’ve fed me, entertained and helped me since I arrived.

There have been furry souls in need of rescue:

…and members of the neighbouring family, and occasionally a new and beautiful friend.


There have been visits from friends, strangers and family over the years, the strangers becoming friends, of course.

But every day there is beauty all around me, in every season, wild and domestic, rain and shine.

This is indeed a little corner of heaven, my stake in Transylvania.Stake_AMB 3D render with shadow

Din Liverpool în Carpati… la New York


My little book went on holiday for Christmas – to New York, USA. My chum Sarah, who bought lots of copies to give to friends (bless her), took a signed copy as a Christmas present, which was received with delight, she said.

But before her friends were allowed to settle down to read, the book was taken on a city tour. Here it is enjoying the sights of a Big Apple Christmas…

Cat scan gives book clean bill of health


Sarah, a friend in Bucharest, writes to tell me: “Oscar adores your wonderful book Arabella McIntyre-Brown. He’s been reading it all the afternoon and purring up a storm. He says he particularly loves all the “nature stuff. Especially the birds…”

There’s plenty in the book for cats, dogs, birds, chickens, sheep, horses, cows and moths. Creatures great, small, tame, wild, furred, feathered, scaled and winged all get a look-in.

An excellent present for gardeners, nature-lovers, cat and dog fans, herbalists, chefs and tea-drinkers.