Helena Drysdale


Looking for George

Love and Death in Romania, published by Sinclair Stevenson 1995, and in paperback by Picador 1996 with a foreword by Tobias Wolff

Shortlisted for the Esquire/Waterstone's/Apple Non-Fiction Award 1995, and the PEN/JR Ackerley Award for Autobiography 1995

New edition due from Picador 11 October 2002

Helena Drysdale
Travelling with friends through Romania in 1979, Helena Drysdale met George Cupar, an Orthodox poet/priest. They drank wine in Transylvanian forests and, avoiding the Securitate, camped together beneath the Carpathian moon. When she returned home, George wrote her letters criticising the Romanian regime, and asked her to marry him and to help him escape. Abruptly the letters stopped. After the revolution in 1989 Helena Drysdale returned to Romania, a country trapped in a labyrinth of post-Communist paranoia, in search of George.

'This real-life search for a lost face through the cruel and frightened maze of Ceausescu's Romania is a moving, beautifully told, and haunting narrative.'
Patrick Leigh Fermor

Extract from the foreword by Tobias Wolff:
' What kind of book is this, exactly? Hard to say. One of the intriguing qualities of Looking for George is its resistance to classification. It falls into no single category of literature, yet at different times takes on the method and tone of the personal memoir, the psychological thriller, the love story, the travel book, the detective novel, and the cultural portrait, in this case of Romanian society in the twilight of Ceausescu's rule and the years just after his overthrow.

In coming to Romania, she also comes to know George. With exquisite care and patience, like one reconstructing a canvas slashed to ribbons, Helena Drysdale assembles a complex and detailed portrait of George, unravels the history of his treatment at the hands of the Securitate, and finally plumbs the mystery of his disappearance. To accomplish all this requires great persistence and courage - she is, don't forget, a nosey woman alone in a country still run by secretive thugs. It would be an act of treason to say how her search ends, but she does after all descend into Hades to find George and in so doing complete a story that has haunted this reader for over a year now, and will no doubt continue to haunt him in years to come.'

'A brilliant travel book.'
Colm Toibin, Irish Times

© Helena Drysdale 2006
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