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Train to Trieste
Synopses & Reviews
An incandescent love story—a thrilling debut novel—that moves from Romania to America, from the Carpathian Mountains to Chicago, from totalitarianism to freedom, and from passionate infatuation to profound understanding.
In the summer of 1977, seventeen-year-old Mona Manoliu falls in love with Mihai, a mysterious, green-eyed boy who lives in Brasov, the romantic mountain city where she spends her summers. She can think of nothing, and no one, else. But life under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu is difficult. Hunger and paranoia infect everyone; fear, too. And one day, Mona sees Mihai wearing the black leather jacket favored by the secret police. Could he be one of them?
As food shortages worsen, as more and more of her loved ones disappear in “accidents,” Mona comes to understand that she must leave Romania. She escapes in secret—narrowly avoiding the police—through Yugoslavia to Italy, and then to Chicago, a city she calls “fit for my hunger.” But she leaves without saying a final good-bye to Mihai. And though she struggles to bury her longing for the past—she becomes a doctoral student, marries, has children—she finds herself compelled to return to her country, determined to learn the truth about her one great love.
Seductive, suspenseful, intensely evocative, and told in an astonishingly original, poetic voice, Train to Trieste is a force of language and emotion, as acutely observed as it is impossible to put down.
"It's 1977 in Ceausescu's brutal Romania, and 17-year-old Mona Manoliu is falling for brooding Mihai Simionu, whom she meets on summer vacation in the Carpathian mountains. What should be a grandly simple first love is complicated by fear, especially for Mona's father, a Bucharest poetry professor tracked by the secret police. Death and secrets plague Mona and Mihai's affair, as friends and relatives die under suspicious circumstances. While the country slides further into poverty, paranoia is the norm, and Mona doesn't know whether to believe the rumors she hears about Mihai. But after her father is detained by police, and then released through the intervention of a former student, it's clear that Mona must leave Romania. Of the many well-known escape routes, she chooses to take the train to 'Trieste' (actually the Yugoslav border). The book takes her much further than that, all the way to a confrontation with the truth about the men in her life, both past and present. Radulescu gives Mona a convincingly overwrought voice, loading her observations with sensory detail, literary and cultural references, and keening emotion. It won't be for everyone, but it offers a unique look at the shadowy world of a brutal dictatorship." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A young Romanian woman flees both Ceausescu's Romania and her lover, who she fears is an informant, for America--only to return later at the urging of her dying father.
About the Author
Domnica Radulescu was born in Romania and came to the United States in 1983. She is a professor of Romance languages and literature and chair of the womens studies program at Washington and Lee University. She has written and edited books and scholarly articles on European literature and theater, and is the founding director of the National Symposium of Theater in Academe. She lives in Lexington, Virginia, with her two sons.
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