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Silver Travel Book Club - Book of the Month - May 2019

Thanks Silver Travel Book Club members for all the insightful comments about your own travel experiences in and around Croatia.

I’m nearing the end of a very rewarding cruise with Book Club sponsor Emerald Waterways, down the lower Danube from Budapest to the riverbank close to Bucharest, stopping short of where this great European river spills out into the Black Sea.

I’ll write separately about other books I’ve read along the route – through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria & Romania – but the Book Club choice this month is the perfect read for this itinerary.

Annabelle Thorpe’s ‘The People We Were Before’ may be fiction, but her characters and story bring perfectly to life the layers of history and resentment that bubbled under the surface, until erupting again to bring the most recent Balkan conflict.

The story tells of a sad rupture of love, family and friendship between Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, from 1989 until the early 2000s. We have heard here very differing views on religion, fault and blame, only reinforcing how fiction can be a powerful messenger.

Keep those comments coming. The two best will win a copy of a very readable book, set in this interesting but often conflict-ridden part of Europe.

Andrew
Literary Editor
The Silver Travel Book Club

We stayed in Zadar and then travelled to the Plitvice Lakes area. The guest house that we stayed in there was run by a gentleman who had on speaking with him been badly treated and affected by the war in the area. However he was determined to build a better future for his family and move forward. His generosity and kindness to us during our stay was incredible and we felt like part of the family by the time we left.

Wrexham

How wonderful that Annabelle commented on the book club.I have not been to this area but would love to.Despite problems in the past in the area,it still seems worth visiting.

I would love to read this book, having just returned from a holiday in Croatia yesterday. Having been there 30 years ago before the homeland war, it was so interesting to see how the people have moved on, however many scars of war still evident. Wonderful scenery, welcoming people, no language barrier and inexpensive ( outside of Dubrovnik old town!!)
This read will surely inspire people to visit.

Shirley

I went to Yugoslavia in the late 1980s.

I have been to Croatia twice, once to Cavtat and Opatia and enjoyed both holidays. Some great cafes serving good food and very friendly people. Not overpriced yet.

I have been to Bosnia Herzegovina three times – in the 1990’s – went with my husband, it is a beautiful country, very rugged and peaceful, stunning sea views on the way in there.

My first trip to this part of Europe will be at the end of the month for two weeks. I am home exchanging in Croatia. A night in Zagreb when I arrive and a night on the way out, with time to explore the city.
Then on to Fazana for a week and Vodice for a second week.
I would love to read this book. For me it is important to know something of a countries recent history. It helps on to understand the people.
Before going to Cambodia I read Stay Alive My Son. When I visited the Killing Fields in Phnom Peng I understood far more than if I had not read the book. I wept when I returned to my tuktuk. The driver was a young man who had lost his brother and father in Polpot’s reign of terror.
We must never forget.

Exeter. UK.

I’m delighted to report that Annabelle Thorpe, author of this month’s Silver Travel Book Club read The People We Were Before, has been in touch and has the following message for Book Club members:

I’m thrilled that you’ve chosen The People We Were Before as this month’s book club read, and also that so many people are discovering this beautiful part of the world. I first travelled to Croatia when I was ten, staying in Dubrovnik, and then went in subsequent years because my brother was playing in the Yugotours (anyone remember them?) house band. It was extraordinary to see that the hotel I stayed in in Cavtat became a refugee centre during the war, and when I went back to Dubrovnik, in 1997, it was shocking to see the extent of the damage caused by the shelling and the siege. But the city has gradually been re-born, and when I was last there, two years ago, it looked almost exactly as I remember it from my visits in the eighties.

The other place that has really stayed with me is Sarajevo, which wears its embattled past with incredible dignity. Its such a diverse city, with 19th century Austro-Hungarian buildings sharing space with mosques and houses that reminded me of being in Turkey. It’s a huge shame that there are currently no direct flights from the UK to Sarajevo, as I would hugely recommend it as a place to visit

Huge thanks to Annabelle for taking the time to get in touch, and remember here’s how you can win a copy of her book this month:

Which travel memories do you have of this intriguing part of Europe, whether before this most recent Balkan conflict, or since? Which country, region or person has lingered longest in your travelling memory? And why….?

Join this Forum thread or comment on Silver Travel’s Facebook page and the most interesting two entries from Silver Travellers will each win a copy of The People We Were Before.

Thanks @june for your interesting memories of Albania. I was in Saranda a couple of years ago too, just by ferry for the day from Corfu. Fortunately, I didn’t feel threatened like someone from your group did, but it did feel as though the place was in the middle of significant change. A vast wave of money was clearly being invested in the resort, but old ruins and vestiges of the recent Communist regime were very visible too.

As you say, a fascinating country and region!

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