William Blacker

Ballroom to Basement

Comrade Baron: A Journey through the Vanishing World of the Transylvanian Aristocracy

By

Helena History Press 425pp £18 order from our bookshop

Reading this book reminds you of how lucky we are to live on an island and be subjects of a benign parliamentary democracy, and so not be at the mercy of marauding armies or the whims of ruthless communist dictators.

The aristocracy of Transylvania were not so lucky. Their fate, as told in this book, is a harrowing one, as well as a cautionary tale of how one can have everything one day and nothing the next. It was in 1945 that things started to go terribly wrong. Patrick Leigh Fermor, just a few years before, had drifted through their gilded lives, staying with them for months in their porticoed country houses, where he was seduced by their charmed existence in the leafy hills and misty valleys by the Mureş river. There is quite a contrast between Leigh Fermor’s lyrical descriptions of their happy prewar years as recounted in Between the Woods and the Water and what happened soon after.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,