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The Kilt Behind the Curtain by Ronald Mackay

January 26, 2021

Having visited Romania in recent years myself and after feeling the ghosts of Ceausescu’s cruel regime in conversations I had with people there, I was excited to win this memoir in a draw. I’ve read Ronald Mackay’s first book Fortunate Isle and loved it, so I knew I would have a treat with this book and I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I was completely riveted. It’s the most interesting book I’ve read in a long time and I was completely absorbed in the author’s account of his two years as a university lecturer in Bucharest in the late 1960s.

My impression is that Ronald Mackay was a courageous, very open young man, and he made many friends in the country as a result. He travelled far and wide across this beautiful land and in it he found people of grace, learning and dignity in spite of the rigours of the regime they lived under.

I would recommend this memoir to everyone interested in communist Eastern Europe and especially in Romania. I would also recommend it to travellers to the country as it explains so much about the attitudes, feelings and character of what we can find there today. A wonderful book which I’m sure I’ll read again.

The link to the book is here

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  1. I got quite interested in that region when I read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s 2nd. and 3rd. books and then Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadowland which is all about Bulgaria. I suppose because of communism Romania and Bulgaria remained a bit hidden and secret so I was fascinated. I’ll add this to my ‘Balkans’ shelf on Goodreads as it sounds excellent.

    • I’m sure you’ll enjoy it then, Cath. Ronald Mackay is a gifted writer. I will mention here that it missed a final sweep with a fresh pair of eyes in terms of editing, but the author’s writing is otherwise so good it would have been nit picking to mention it in my review, which is the one I posted on Amazon. It really is fascinating!

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