The journey was very long and we had to travel for two days and nights. Sister Firmina, who acted as the boarders’ ‘mother’, had told us to be good girls and not give any trouble to our dear Uncle Hermann, Papa’s youngest brother, who still lived with Grandmother and who would take us from Vienna to Uj-Moldova. Papa would take us as far as Vienna.I got this several years ago because I thought it was about the state of Moldova, which I know and love; but in fact it is a post-Habsburg memoir by a woman who was brought up in the Hungarian town of Uj-Moldova in the Banat, now Moldova Nouă in south-west Romania, and whose childhood was interrupted by the first world war, at the end of which she and her parents found themselves non-Czechs living in the new Czechoslovakia, and having to make what accommodation they could with the new state of affairs. Physical return to Uj-Moldova was difficult, but became possible as tensions reduced; but you can never go back to the past. Coming to it so soon after Stefan Zweig was interesting; obviously Anna’s family were small-town bourgeoisie rather than Jewish intellectuals, but that simply meant that the disintegration of the old system hit them in a somewhat different way. Anna lived to see her homeland taken over by Communism, and her family expelled as Sudeten Germans, but got out in time (and got her parents out) by marrying Mr Robertson. Despite the tension of the times, she retains an eye for the humorous and for telling details. The book was published in 1989, just as the world was changing again; you can get it here.
This was both the non-fiction book that had lingered longest on my unread shelves, and the shortest unread book that I acquired in 2010. Next on those piles respectively are Virgins, Weeders and Queens, by Twigs Way, and The Flood, by Scott Gray and Gareth Roberts.