Readers’ reviews

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A stake, and a hammer, in Transylvania

Oana Dunel, Bucharest: “I could hardly wait for this book to arrive, I was so eager to read it that I started in the car, while sitting at the traffic lights! 😌 I dream very much that someday I could move myself into a picturesque mountain village, in the heart of Transylvania. You’re an inspiration to me and so far I love the book to madness!”

Diana Maria Voicu, Bucharest: “I bought the book out of curiosity – after all, it was tempting to have a glimpse of what an English woman has to say about us, from the heart of my country.  I was not disappointed: a fresh, kind and balanced look at the more traditional Romanian life, its customs and way of living has rekindled my appreciation of what we still have here, in this country that we too often curse.

But the more surprising gift was the writer’s personal journey, the story of her brave sailing through life, her honesty about faults and suffering, joys and limitations, aging and dying, friends and childhood. So 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. I have really enjoyed reading this evocative picture of lives lived in different places and times that have brought you to love the place you’re in now and the solitude you enjoy there.”

Cricket Gri: “It’s marvellous, sincere and warm. I enjoyed every word of it! 💗 I simply love the way in which it is written; the fact that the words can make me actually see/feel your world is just brilliant. I adore every line of it. I love that you love animals and I love the respect you show towards nature. I think it’s one of the best books I’ve read.”

Maryclare Foa, London: “Really, it’s wonderful – you’ve basically opened the door to a different way of seeing and understanding Romania – really important in this time of Brexit madness – you’ve taken the tired ‘moved to Tuscany eating fruit’ genre and rejuvenated it with a whole new, much edgier, richer landscape, culture and way of living – WONDERFUL.”

Silviu Schuster, Germany: “Leo Tolstoi wrote: ‘There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.’ I had to think about what greatness is as I met Tolstoi’s ingredients in your book. Not that the book is simple, but it has a simplicity that is contagious, what in German would be “Leichtigkeit”, which might be “easiness” in English.

I like the jumping from autobiographical passages to animals, plants, anthropological fragments, politics, global issues, descriptions of life now and in the past.

You lend us your sharp eyes and understanding. You told us about your story. You make us understand ourselves better, you make us better understand you. You understand us better than we sometimes do. 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. What I like most is that sometimes the mirror is very clear, sometimes it is foggy, sometimes is like an old Venetian mirror which shows a gold-plated, interrupted picture. And all this in a frame that captures the essential: your truth.

I love all those filigree details that give us a glimpse of the full, vivid life you live in a place you now call home. I love the microcosm you share with us. I like your pertinent observations; the way you try to make your world – your life – better.

Your book gives us hope in a world where we have lost heaven. It shows us that it is worthy to stand up when you feel down, that a tiny ray of hope can activate powers one never thought might lie in oneself.

And by the way, Tolstoi is not completely right. Greatness without love is not great enough. Love is what one should add to simplicity, goodness and truth in order to achieve real greatness. Your book has all these four ingredients, at least for me.

Andreea Bell, Cristian: “I’ve enjoyed every bit of it – I’ve appreciated both your humour and your self-irony, and the finger pointed at various strange characters you’ve come across … I got carried away by the events you so candidly, vividly, magically depict.”

Luiza Pearson, Somerset: “Fascinating, and it reads just as you talk, flows so naturally. Your chapter on Ginny was painful to read,  powerful and compelling as 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!!  I was fascinated by your descriptions of your early life in Sussex.  It reminded me a bit of ‘The Darling Buds of May’, with all those orchards.”

Andra Moraru, Bucharest: “The book is unlike anything I’ve read, full of emotion, in which the author puts her heart out for you, so it’s impossible not to be moved. And the language is so normal, alive, it’s like a friend whom you haven’t seen in a long time and it tells you what she’s done.”

Cristina Tanef, Magura: “I was looking forward to your book  I had already read some paragraphs and they caught my attention. Today, happy to have received it, I poured myself a cup of coffee and started reading. I couldn’t put it down. I will finish it by tonight! It made me nervous, it amused me; I’m happy I found dear neighbours in your stories well written with love. You are a beautiful, sensitive person, yet strong. ”

Manuela Davis, Ploiesti: “I had a ‘white night’ last night. I couldn’t take my hands off your book. It made me laugh, it made me cry or both at the same time.”

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