Good morning! And what a morning – the sun is blazing down on Magura, and the ridge of Piatra Craiului, covered in fresh snow, is shining star-white over the autumn-glow of the turning leaves. This is the view from my kitchen window. How lucky does that make me? What view would you like from your kitchen window – mountain, sea, city or desert…?
Thanks to all your feedback, book clan, I’ve mashed up versions 1 and 2 of the cover blurb and now present this new version for your constructive criticism. With the front cover illustration – does this do the job? What do you think?
This candid and engaging book is nothing less than a love letter to Romania. Fleeing from a colourful British city to a half-built wooden house on a hillside in the Carpathian mountains, eight kilometres from a shop and a world away from her busy life as a writer and journalist in Liverpool, should have been a disaster. In her fifties, with no steady income, no pension and no Plan B, she was quizzed by her new neighbours and every Romanian she met. Why? How? … and alone? Triggered by a spate of family funerals, the truth behind her flight from England had its roots in a troubled childhood. Everything suggested she’d fail. Instead, she found the secret of happiness in Transylvania.
In a deeply personal account of her mutation from urbanite to happy Carpathian recluse, Arabella reveals the magic of rural Transylvania in a way that will melt the heart of every Romanian.
So here it is – the book cover! Something a little different from the usual cover design in Romania? A huge thank you to Andra Penescu for such a bright and cheery statement of the book’s content.
I’m working on the back cover blurb, with the help of all your valuable feedback, so soon you’ll have both sides of the argument…
For now – what do you think, book clan? Imagine the book sitting on a shelf amongst other titles – would this cover make you curious enough to pick it up?
We’re at the point of writing the blurb for the back cover of the book – the paragraph that will entice readers to look inside and – I hope – take the book to the cash desk and buy it. Or (even better) buy two – one for themselves, one as a Christmas present…
So which of these two would most tempt you to buy and read? It won’t be one or the other, but something of a mash-up, I suspect. But would you, members of my book clan, be kind enough to help me once more? Let me know which paragraph appeals to you most – and why, if you know. An instant impression is the best, so don’t think too hard! In the bookshop or the online catalogue the book only has a few seconds to make an impact, so please be brutally honest: would you want to read the book described in No.1 or No.2?
A Romanian moving to Britain is no news. A Briton moving – kitchen sink and all – to Romania is not such a common story. And each factor makes the story more compelling: a woman in her fifties, living alone in a remote mountain village; a writer, with no steady income, no pension and no Plan B; a Briton who has no plans to go back to Britain because she feels so at home in the Carpathians. Why? How did she arrive here? Why is she still here? How does she cope with country life after 30 years in big cities? Why doesn’t she feel lonely? what sort of future does she have here? What does she like so much about Transylvania? And how do sheep threaten her sanity? This candid and engaging book, which uncovers the secret of happiness, is nothing less than a love letter to Romania.
It’s said that travel broadens the mind. It’s also said that moving house is the third most traumatic event in a person’s life after bereavements and divorce. Mix together five funerals and emigration, and you have something of a challenge. Especially when you’re over 50 and alone. Moving from a colourful British city like Liverpool to a half-built wooden house on a hillside in the Carpathian mountains, eight kilometres from a shop and a world away from her busy life as an author and business journalist in urban England, was a huge leap of faith for this Englishwoman. Add in the grief of family deaths, a childhood with alcoholic parents, the menopause, a mental melt-down, the 2008 financial crisis and imperfect health, and you have a recipe for impending disaster. Instead, this English woman found the secret of happiness in Transylvania. In a candid and engaging account of her change from urbanite to country recluse, she reveals the magic of rural Transylvania in a way that will melt the heart of every Romanian.
My fabulous neighbours… Tica came down earlier to tell me that she and her husband Chivu have two cubic metres of dry wood that they could let me have; Viorel, the neighbour between us, has some green wood, and (pictured) has just helped Chivu deliver the first lot. Meanwhile, downhill neighbours Nelu and his son Dragos were chopping the remaining logs from last year to a length suitable for my wood-burning stoves.
What was beginning to look like a very chilly winter indeed – due to idiotic legislation and weak forestry management – has turned warm from kindness as all my neighbours band together to supply me with fuel.
Matei Buta is a magician. I’ve always loathed having my photograph taken, but Matei made the day fly by as he conjured up image after amazing image.
I’m in excellent company – here’s Matei’s portrait of King Michael and Queen Ana, from 2011. And here you can see some of his marvellous portraits from the Români frumosi project. To know more about this talented young photographer, read an interview here.
I’ll post my favourites over the run-up to the launch, but here are the variations on the Rembrandt theme. Which do you like best? What captions would you put to each?
… and to my lucky, lucky life in Transylvania. Every day I wonder how I got here, how I have been so fortunate as to live in this little bubble of paradise, 1,000 metres up in the Carpathians – especially after the grief that made it possible. It was only because I lost the long struggle that I won this happy ending.
My happy news is that the book will be launched at the Gaudeamus book fair in Bucharest between 16-20 November.
In this blog I’ll share with you some extracts from each chapter to give you a feel for the book and what you’ll find there, and I’ll post photos so you can see who and what I’m writing about.
Watch out for events in your area – book signings, talks, writing workshops… I’ll be travelling around Romania to spread the word about the book, so if you’d like me to come to your place, let me know. More details in the Events section (available soon).
The book is published by Editura All, in print and as ebook – you’ll soon be able to order online here. If you’d like to order a larger volume of books, look at the paragraph about volume discount. A great Christmas present…