British writer Paul Kenyon is in Romania promoting his latest book ‘Children of the Night’ a historical real-life thriller that traces Romania’s history from Vlad the Impaler up until the 1989 revolution.
The newly-published Romanian version, “Copii Noptii,” published by Litera and translated by Antoaneta Olteanu, was presented by the author and British Ambassador Andrew Noble on Tuesday evening.
Beautiful and misunderstood
Mr Kenyon, 56, describes Romania as “the most beautiful and misunderstood country in all of Europe, a land of adventure and romance…”
The impeccably researched book captivates readers with its engaging writing, telling the stories of Dracula and fascist death cults of the 1930s. It presents the British-born ‘fairytale’ Queen Marie, who Kenyon considers was perhaps Romania’s best-ever leader, and features Cold War spies and Stalinist dictators—-and it’s all true.
His love affair with Romania has a deeply personal link too.
While on assignment for the BBC in Bucharest in 1994 (and trying to interview the British ambassador) for a story about baby trafficking in the wake of the collapse of Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime, he met his future wife, Flavia, at a reception.
The now Mrs Kenyon moved to Britain and studied Law at Oxford and is the first Romanian-speaking Barrister in the UK.
“I never found the ambassador, but I found the love of my life,” he reminisced at a reception on Tuesday evening that had a subdued note due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday.
The British Ambassador hosted the soiree attended by dozens and led a minute of silence to honour the late monarch.
The writer describes his fascination with his second home as “the only country in Eastern Europe to speak a Latin language, Romania has always felt itself different, and its unique fate has been to experience some of the most disastrous leaderships of the last century.”
Traveling with his wife, Flavia Kenyon, ‘‘Copii Noptii” and the English version will be presented at the Transylvanian Book Festival in Richis that runs from Sept. 15-18 and then in Cluj.
First World War
“In the First World War her German king (editor’s note: King Carol I) remained neutral until 1916,” he tells readers. „The interwar rulers form a gallery of bizarre characters and movements: the corrupt King Carol (editor’s note. King Carol II); the antisemitic Iron Guard led by Corneliu Codreanu; the vain general Ion Antonescu who seized power in 1940 and led the country into alliance with Nazi Germany.
“After 1945 power was handed over to Romania’s tiny communist party, under whom it experienced severe repression, purges, and collectivization.
„Then in 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power. And thus began the strangest dictatorship in recent European history,” he says.
A review on Amazon says that Children of the Night “is also a personal discovery of this extraordinary country, bringing together Paul Kenyon’s eye for the private vices and kleptocratic tendencies of despots with a heartfelt exploration of the fate of one Romanian family in particular. “
Mr Kenyon is a BAFTA winning journalist for BBC Panorama, File on 4 and author of ‘Dictatorland,’ another critically acclaimed book.