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Review of Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker

July 19, 2019


Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania is one of those books that lingers in your mind long after you have reached the last page and closed the covers. I bought this as a paperback and am so glad I did as it includes several pages of rather grainy black and white photos that might not have shown too well on my Kindle. It’s also a book I’m sure I’ll read again.

Written with lyrical beauty, the author describes how curiosity led him to visit Romania following the fall of the Berlin wall, but having made his way there, he found it hard to leave and ended up staying for several years.

He immersed himself in rural life, seeing this as the ideal existence. Romania in the 90s was largely unaffected by the western world and William Blacker loved its old world simplicity, free of the trappings and technology of modern life. He was welcomed into the community where he made his home (in Breb) and learnt many of the arts and customs of country life.

However, curiosity also led him to investigate the former Saxon villages in Transylvania that he passed through on his first visit to the country, and there he met and fell for a gypsy girl.

The book really comprises two parts: Blacker’s life in Breb with the Romanians and his life in the Saxon village with the gypsies. The former is idyllic, the latter is fraught with tensions and troubles, but both are fascinating as insights into Romania, its people, its post communist developments and its attitude to the gypsies. There is also a good deal of historical detail, which gives added depth to his story of this complex country. Romania’s people are lovely, but there is also a huge amount of underlying prejudice and suspicion in society, a legacy of its troubled past.

For me, it was eye-opening as well as beautifully written and has made me want to make a return visit to Romania to see how much things have changed in the country since the book was written. With the opening up of Europe, western conveniences have flooded in and eroded much of the old way of life, but it is still there in the more rural heartlands.

This was a lovely memoir as well as being an important record of what life was like in Romania only twenty years ago. Highly recommended.

The link to the book is here.

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