The scent of lemon tree flowers

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding

Chris’ auntie lent me this book during our visit in Leura. It was here I smelt the first time the amazing flowers of a lemon tree. I am in love and I really hope I get a chance to plant and have a lemon tree one day. We have already gifted Chris’ mom and dad one and maybe by the time we visit next time it will be in full bloom.

The book is set in Romania around the 1950s. I don’t think I ever read a book set in Romania and written by a non-Romanian author. There is of course ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker but I didn’t finish it so it doesn’t count.

There are three historical periods setting up the context for the characters: pre-war, the war and the beginning of the communist era. These three coincide with various stages in the lives of Tinu and Safta. Safta is the daughter of the well off family Valeanu, while Tinu is the deaf-mute son of one of the servants in the house. Their childhood and teenage years unfold in the picturesque landscape of Moldova, in a time that allows them to enjoy a relatively happy childhood. Tinu finds an outlet to express his thoughts and feelings, through drawing and the only one who can understand the subtleties in his work is Safta. This creates a long lasting bond between the two which will influence their lives all the way through.

I have a feeling I want to escape the themes revolving around wars and communism for a while but I am reaching the realization that is not an easy feat. Our history is so full of them that at one point or another a lot of characters are directly affected, or they are one or two generations separated by a war. Although the war completely changed the course of the characters’ lives and added all the dramatic and intense levels expected, there was an underling soft tone to the story that made it bearable.

The beginning of the communist era brought more bleak aspects into play but it also pushed the two characters together again and it all ended in a happy ending. ‘Happy ending’ is an indulgent expression used here but it did feel like it given the premise.

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