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To Romania With Love Paperback – 31 May 2012
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'To Romania With Love is more than a snapshot of a strange country at a strange time; it is a vivid, impressionistic hymn to exuberance, of risks taken, of impulses acted upon. Humming with energy, it is at once touching and funny; a rare, brave and honest account of finding love and holding on to it' --Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph
'Tessa is a compelling writer and an equally compelling heroine: a young woman torn between her ambition and her love, between her sense of tradition and her extremely unconventional nature. An extraordinary achievement' --Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Oscar-Winning Director of The Lives of Others
'Fiercely honest, this story of love across a continent, from one end
of Europe to the other, is all the more compelling because it is true' --Professor Alice Roberts, TV Presenter and Author
'A unique and unusual love story, strikingly told, To Romania With Love is a moving account of an impetuous British girl and her love for a young boy and his beleaguered country' --Hugo Vickers, Biographer and Historian
About the Author
Tessa Dunlop was born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, and studied Modern History at Oxford. She became a broadcaster in the late 90s, and has since fronted history documentaries for Discovery, BBC, and American History Channel. She's currently presenter/historian on BBC2's Coast. She's written for the Times, Guardian, Independent and Mail, and is finishing a Masters at Sheffield Hallam University where her research subject is Queen Marie of Romania. To Romania With Love is her first book. She juggles her time between London, Scotland and Romania.
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Top customer reviews
I can't say I enjoyed the early chapters; the author's description of working in a Romanian orphanage pulls no punches but her writing style and honesty kept me reading. It's straightforward and factual and yet, and yet, ghastly as it was, still she wanted to return to Romania.
The subsequent story of her return and her meeting with the Toma family and her involvement in their lives is almost painfully honest. There were moments when I felt quite uncomfortable as I read the section where a woman in her mid-20s realises that she is falling for a 17-year old. Why should I feel this way? I don't know, but I had to remind myself that, if the age-difference were reversed, I wouldn't give it a thought. As I read on, the discomfort faded and I found myself rooting for Vlad and Tessa, wanting them to make their relationship work, longing for a happy ending.
I know a little more about Romania now than I did before. I doubt it'll ever be top of my list of places to visit but the observation of how ordinary people coped with the shift from communism to a free market economy does more to flesh out the news stories of the past two decades than anything else I've ever read.
In the end, this is a plain story of real people, love and tears and laughter. I finished it with a smile on my face and I'm glad I read it.
My wife insisted I read it and I'm very happy I listened to her (for once). I did not expect a page turner (it took me less than two days to finish the book) but so it turned out to be - at least in my case. That was not just because of the story, but also because its degree of realism. I was expecting many inaccuracies but found none; the book is really well researched and captures so many aspects of Romanian life in amazing detail, from the bigger picture (historical events, social and economical reality, transition) to the smallest details (food, regional animosities, quirky habits). It touches on many sensitive issues for our country - orphanages, poverty, corruption - and some Romanians may dismiss it for this reason. But they are real, sometimes painfully so (I too used to volunteer in an orphanage).
It isn't all doom and gloom though. The plot kept me engaged, I found the writing style quite entertaining and there is a lot of warmth throughout the story, punctuated by some really funny moments.
I also had a rather strong sense of deja vu reading it - I am nearly Vlad's age, from Iași, I have grandparents in the country near the Moldovan border, I went to summer school to improve my English, I live in London after spending a few years in Bucharest and have even studied at UCL (!)... I suppose that's why it all resonates a bit more for me, but it also means I know what I'm saying about the context of the story.
I will be recommending the book to my friends back home and to anyone who wants to learn more about Romania here in the UK. It's definitely worth a read.