Why It’s Painful to Watch The Handmaid’s Tale

Watching the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is proving to be a very traumatic experience for me, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch it to the end. Let me share a little bit of the reason why, although it is far bigger than the examples I mention below.

It’s not surprising that when the book was published in 1985, it was banned in Romania. This, despite the fact that it was set in America (we liked showing the corruption and failure of capitalist society) and  showed the pitfalls of a society heavily influenced by religion (religion is the opium of the people and us Communists were proudly atheist).

Scene from the recent TV adaptation on Hulu.

It’s obvious, however, that the Republic of Gilead symbolises any totalitarian state which imposes a single way of thinking, is harsh with anyone who dares to be different and brutally suppresses any form of dissent. Above all, it provided a striking parallel to Romania itself, that ‘paradise’ where everybody knew their place and worked for the greater good, and enjoyed the illusory safety of law and order (never mind how it was achieved). It was also one of the few countries of the world at the time where the state controlled women’s reproduction. The reason behind it was to produce enough citizens to lead the socialist revolution and build our glorious communist future.

I was a product of the law, one of the so-called ‘decreței’ (children born following Decree 770 introduced in 1967), banning any form of contraception and abortion. My mother suffered from heart disease and the doctors were not sure it was wise for her to have a child. She had me, but her health deteriorated sufficiently after that, that she was allowed to get away without having any more children. Other women were not so fortunate. There were only a few cases where you might be exempt from the rule:

  • if you were over the age of 45
  • if you already had 4 children (later raised to five)
  • if you had a life-threatening disease and would be unable to bear to term
  • if your pregnancy was the result of rape or incest (but see below about pregnancy tests for 14 year olds)

Contraceptives were not available at all and any doctors or nurses found giving them out (let alone performing abortions) were imprisoned.

Families continued to attempt to obtain black market contraceptives from abroad (there would be day trips to special markets for these in Yugoslavia), but many of them had expired or had potential side-effects, since they were given without any medical supervision. Plus you were always in danger of getting caught smuggling them in. Many women died or were permanently damaged having illegal abortions.

Stadium celebrations for national day under Ceausescu.

It was worse, of course, for those who could not afford children or smuggled contraceptives, since your extra bonus from the state for being a ‘heroine mother’ (additional benefits) only kicked in once you had eight or more children. Many women tried to disguise the pregnancies for as long as possible, wearing tight corsets or drinking strange concoctions to provoke a miscarriage. As a result, there was a high proportion of children born with malformations, health problems, general failure to thrive. Most of them ended up in orphanages, as did the children of women who had illicit affairs with foreign students (any physical contact with foreigners was punishable with imprisonment), especially when it was obvious that the child was mixed race.

From the age of 14 until 45, all women were required to go twice a year to have a gynaecological test. In fact, if you went to the doctor with any other ailment, you were sent to have a check for pregnancy anyway. Of course, if you were pregnant, you were then strictly monitored to make sure that you carried to term. If you suffered a natural miscarriage, you could be taken to court and had to prove your innocence.

Head down, blinkers on, pretend not to see a thing…

So that is the general picture. We all knew someone who had suffered from this law. A family friend who was a nurse was constantly persecuted and questioned, although she had only once referred a woman who fitted the legal criteria for an abortion. The wife of another friend, who was a talented professional singer, died following an infection after an illegal abortion and left behind two young children. (The reason I mention her profession is because there was the mistaken belief that only the poor were subjected to these harsh conditions, but it affected everyone.) Two of my classmates were forced to marry in the final year of high school when she could no longer disguise her pregnancy, but their child was born with severe birth defects and died less than a year later. Their marriage only lasted two years.

So there was suffering by proxy and also the direct experience. I was 14 when I returned to Romania and had barely ever kissed a boy, let alone had sex. Yet there I was, obliged to go through the rough handling by (always male, as far as I can remember) doctors. I will never forget my first time there, which marked the end of any trusting relationship with my mother.

Pioneers and Falcons, the glorious future of the Socialist Republic of Romania, archive image from latrecut.ro

I had scoliosis, but before I could get a referral for physiotherapy, I had to undergo the obligatory gyno-examination. A whole generation of doctors had not used contraceptives for 20 years, so they were very ignorant about anything to do with birth control or even developments in female sanitary products. Sanitary pads and tampons were not available in Romania until after the fall of the Wall, so the brash middle-aged gynaecologist had no idea that I was using Tampax or what effect it might have on the female anatomy. Of course, he didn’t bother to ask any questions, although I was so young.

So, after much prodding and shaking of the head, he turned and said to my mother: ‘So… she’s been a bit of a naughty girl, hasn’t she? No longer a virgin, I can see…’

The most painful part about this is that, despite all my protests, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, my mother (who has an almost grovelling belief in the infallible god-like nature of doctors) believed him and lost faith in me that very day. Everything that followed, all the policing and monitoring, shaming and punishing, reading of diaries and interference in my private life even after I left home has come about as a direct consequence of that day.

It’s very difficult for me to talk about these things, even though I believe we should never forget the mistakes of the past if we want to build a more humane future. Alas, I don’t think I have many illusions left that personal stories give us an insight or change people’s minds. Even celebrity stories are just there for titillation and tut-tutting.

But fiction can. Especially when it is well-written. If the book and the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale can alert those who have not lived through this trauma to fight against such extremism, they will have done their job. Even if I cannot watch it to the end.

I’ve just been made aware there is a documentary about abortion policy in Romania, directed by Florin Iepan. 




97 thoughts on “Why It’s Painful to Watch The Handmaid’s Tale”

  1. An incredible post, it could not have been easy to write and share your experiences and I thank you for it. I had no knowledge of these practices and am shocked. You are right in that it is important that the mistakes of the past are not forgotten, so we do not repeat them. A brave and enlightening post, bravo.

    1. Margaret Atwood has talked about Romania serving as background inspiration at the time, but of course such things were not widely known then (like North Korean life is not widely known to us now). I had my doubts about sharing this, but it’s so easy to slip into absolutism because of what seems to be a perfectly reasonable statement. At the time, they were concerned that birth rates were falling because women were using abortion as a form of contraception – which is a bad idea for so many reasons. So they built this whole indoctrination and mythology of ‘heroic mothers’ and Ceausescu’s wife as the ‘First Mother of the Nation’ etc. etc.

      1. It is very important that these things are shared by the people who know and lived it. I haven’t seen The Handmaidens Tale but thank you for educating me – a positive way to start the week!

    1. I admit I thought what I was telling here was ‘old news’, i.e. everybody would have been aware of it when they saw those horrifying images from Romanian orphanages after 1989. But I daresay the connection was never quite explicitly made.

      1. You’re absolutely right – the connection should have been made, explicit or otherwise. I’m guilty of not properly thinking that one through. I’m so sorry that such misery has been caused by such a callous policy.

      2. I remember those news stories after the fall of the Regime. And it just was like the same experience of learning about the Killing Fields in Cambodia. Worldwide there was a black out of information, only to find out there’s this huge tragedy going on. But I will say, I did NOT know about the policies and conditions that caused/led to the Romanian orphanage stories that made the news here in the U.S. This story needs to be told, and the causal relation to the Hand Maiden’s tale needs to be explicitly made. It is not merely a work of fiction. But more a ficitionalized/dramatized version of something that was actively happening when it was written.

        1. I couldn’t agree more, and it’s clear that Atwood was inspired by those real-life stories that she heard about. I did go on to watch the third episode and became even more traumatised when I saw the demonstration which turned violent, with armed police shooting at demonstrators. Previously, I had always thought of my experiences during the revolution in Romania as exhilarating (because we won in the end), even though we were shot at and had to take refuge in the National Theatre and watched friends and classmates get killed. But clearly the trauma was buried deep in there somewhere and it resurfaced when I saw that scene in the TV show. I think I really will have to stop there. The ‘bringing it up to date’ is inspired, but too fearsome for me.

    1. Which explains why I am always sceptical of ideology which sings praises to ‘family values’ and exalts motherhood, without providing the support rather than punishment for women to choose to become mothers.

  2. Omg, Marina! I’m so touched that you decided to post about this painful and intimate experience. I had vaguely a knowledge about it but I didn’t realize what it meant for a person to live with these rules. I personally appreciate that the (French) state and society takes charge of health matters (vaccination, campaigns at school to check your eyes, teeth, skin…) but there’s always a fine line when the state assumes that it can rule over your own body. I’m so sorry about what you had to go through.

    1. It was a collective tragedy – and perhaps it did lead to one good result, namely that those young people born as a result of the Decree were at the forefront of toppling the Communist regime in 1989.

  3. Thank you for your courage. I can understand the feeling that sharing such experiences does not help or change things but I must disagree. As a therapist, a former Child Protection Officer and as a survivor of some hideous abuse, I know first-hand that such shared information lets others know that there is more out there and to keep going with your life. Also to testify that many of us who have survived have made a good life for ourselves and have chosen not to harm others. We choose Kindness. Bon courage ma brave!

    1. Thank you, Lea, that means a lot to me. You must have heard many dreadful stories and sometimes the collective burden seems overwhelming, while at other times I feel that people learn nothing from such stories. But perhaps it depends on individual reaction.

      1. Not everyone will learn but some will. For some, such reading will plant seeds that can grow into understanding. Thank you again, Marina, for your courage. Perhaps you can think of your words like a pebble skipped across a pond and the circular causality at the movement you generate, Those seeds and that ripple affect can move mountains. However we don’t often witness the results.

    1. It took me a week to fret about whether to write it or not. My post about the dangers of borders before the EU Referendum had no result, so I felt like I’m shouting in the wilderness. Or preaching to the already converted, to judge by the comments.

  4. So brave of you to post this Marina. It should be widely shared so that ignorance doesn’t prevail. Lucille xx

    1. It frightens me how easily people accept state control and supervision simply because they want order and stability. All the military dictatorships of the world, all toatlitarian states, all absurd laws thrive on this.

  5. This must have been so difficult to write – thank you for doing so, because I’m sure very few of us were aware of the detail of that reproductive policy (I wasn’t), or would have heard what it was like to experience its effects first-hand. If you are lucky enough to grow up in a privileged social bubble it can be very difficult to imagine any other reality. That’s why first-hand testimony and literature like The Handmaid’s Tale are so very important, because they show us how easily the basic rights we take for granted could be taken away. I also feel very angry on your behalf that you had to go through those invasive experiences. Completely outrageous 😦

    1. Fear feeds the gradual slide into intolerance and extremism. One of the brainwashing techniques used was: we need to produce children for the fatherland so that the Russians or Western Imperialists won’t be able to conquer us.

  6. The comments above say it all: what a terrible regime to have to endure. I visited Romania back in the late 70s, visiting a pen friend, and saw some of the oppressive measures imposed by the state – her father had to work on a collective farm, couples were forced to live apart because their profession was needed where the state decreed they should live, etc. But I found all the people I met were kind, generous and vibrant – the spirit that shines through your post, despite the pain. Very brave and honest of you to share: thank you.

    1. Humour kept us going – a black sort of humour. And solidarity, helping each other, even if we were never quite sure who were the informers amongst us.

  7. Thank you for this post. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to write. I’m sorry you and the people you knew had to go through those experiences.

    1. I’m sure there are other places in the world where it is much worse, but we always get more incensed when it happens in places closer to us (geographically and culturally). We just assume we all share liberal values and that is so not the case… even within the same society.

  8. Horrific reading, Marina, and sobering for me to read, given I am a citizen of the only remaining country in Europe which has an ethos anywhere near the one you describe. You have probably heard the stories of absolute wickedness that have come from it, but I did not know about the Decree and am horrified by it.

    Thank you for sharing your story; it must have been difficult to write.

    Someday we too will be free of this. Repeal the 8th.

    1. I was thinking of Ireland as I was writing this (although a similar rhetoric is beginning to be spouted in Poland, but it’s not law yet, thank goodness). It has led to great tragedy in the past in Ireland, but I hope sense will prevail some day soon.

  9. Wow – I have to confess my ignorance about this part of history, and it’s quite shocking to read about. No wonder Atwood’s story strikes such a chord with you. I can completely understand how your relationship with your mother suffered after such treatment, and it’s incredibly brave to share your story with us here. And sad that we still have to be afraid that tyranny like this will return…

    1. In many ways, that is the saddest part of such totalitarian regimes: they destroy trust and introduce fear amongst families and friends. Children learn to lie from an early age – for their own protection, for the protection of their family members. Even if there wasn’t an ‘Eye’ in every class or group, the ‘reputation of Eyes’ was enough for self-censorship.

  10. It also reminds me of China..in the reverse way..where women were forced into abortions of a second child. And the countries that lock away disabled children and quietly let them die. Your story, though so sad, needs telling. I can see it happening again…well, it already doies: Isis and Boko Haram are using women to ‘breed’ the next generation of fighters for their evil causes.

    1. Exactly, all those horrors continue in so many places and we seldom hear about them. I thought the TV adaptation does capture the claustrophobia and lack of trust very well.

  11. What a powerful story, Marina Sofia. Thank you for sharing is. I can only imagine how awful it must have been. And I certainly see the parallels to The Handmaid’s Tale. Anyone who thinks that sort of thing can’t happen is simply not looking around. You’re right, too, about the power of fiction. It can show us ourselves.

  12. As others have said, it’s so brave of you to have written this post. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this must have been…

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of Christian Mungui’s film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which explores some of these issues in a different way.

  13. I cannot find the words to express how much strength that much have taken you to share that, and I want to thank you for sharing it. Perhaps I’ve had a sheltered life but I was absolutely unaware of the realities & horrors, it will certainly make me think a little deeper about The Handmaid’s Tale & the power of fiction.

    1. You can’t be expected to know about things which happened 30 years ago in a different place, especially in the days before social media made it easy to share such information. Plus, a closed society doesn’t make it easy to share – how much do we really know about daily life in North Korea, for example?

  14. Powerful post Marina. I hadn’t known that about Romania – what hideous experiences for a young girl. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us. I have just re-read the Handmaid’s Tale which I reviewed today , it still feels so relevant and I went straight on to watching the TV series.

    1. I’ll go over to read your review. I actually found reading the book much easier than viewing it on TV – but then I was much younger when I read it.

  15. I had no idea. And I’m sorry to hear how it affected your relationship with your mother. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

    1. Perhaps it was her general fear of losing control over her teenage only child, but it’s just recently dawned on me that the relationship really deteriorated right about then.

  16. How terrible for you Marina. Thank you for sharing your story, I had no idea about this happening in Romania. Like others here I admire your courage and hope you have been able to come to terms with this period of your life. Sending lots of love.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Robin. It was just part and parcel of life back then, most of my friends were going through something similar (although perhaps their mothers were more supportive), so it never struck me as too outlandish. The power of ‘normalisation’…

  17. I’m another who had no idea about these practices in Romania – shocking, and almost unimaginable what some women must have gone through. Thanks for your courage in sharing your own experiences. Sadly, even parts of the advanced world still seem to feel they have a right to dictate over something as basic as childbirth, whether to promote it or to discourage it.

  18. What a moving post Marina and one that has made me feel incredibly ignorant as I had no idea about this regime. I’m not surprised that the TV series is bringing those horrific memories to the fore!

    1. Well, it wasn’t something to be proud of, so it was kept well hidden. And the sad thing is that for the two years after the fall of Communism, because of the lack of expertise in other forms of birth control by doctors, abortion was the most widely-used form of contraception. 1 million abortions in 1990, for a population of 22 million. So there were after-effects for a few more years…

  19. I did, for a while, as a child, live behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, but Romania was I think a very specially brutal regime. We did, in the West, learn some of the crimes of that regime, and I had experienced some of how a population can be cowed and forced into orthodoxy, Your courageous recounting made me cry for you, and your compatriots. Part of the great wickedness of totalitarian regimes is how they so deliberately and consciously set out to destroy compassionate humanity. You are right, these real stories need to be known, and we need all, to be alert and vigilant. So many women fought so hard, for so long, to bring us human freedoms, and there those who would take them away. The Handmaid’s Tale (sadly) seems far from a battle which has been won. We are hardly in a ‘post feminist world’ and need to be vigilant. No doubt this is why The Handmaid’s Tale, not to mention other dystopian fictions written decades ago, are being read, as warnings, not as irrelevant and archaic speculations

    1. Yes, sadly, there is nothing archaic or irrelevant about them, and we do not seem to learn from out past mistakes, as a species. The saddest thing was the way in which it split up communities and families, as you grew suspicious of all those around you.

    1. It feels very small in the grander scale of things: there are so many women elsewhere in the world who suffered much more. But the fact that it’s Europe and not that long ago should give s pause for thought… perhaps it scares me because it still feels so terribly relevant nowadays!

      1. I hear what you’re saying but I don’t buy into a hierarchy of suffering; it’s horrific and it shouldn’t be happening.

        Yes, I agree that it being Europe and recently might make people think; I think we like to other the women this happens to as if they’re all in a distant land under a regime that ‘couldn’t happen here’, when really they’re next door and it very much could. For me that was what’s always been so scary about Atwood’s book.

  20. I did not know nay of that about Romania. Thank you for sharing it and your story. How horrible for you and all the women in the country. I have read the book but have not seen the show yet. I probably will eventually but I have to mentally prepare for it, there is too much going on in the US right now that scares me because it edges ever closer to Atwood’s “fiction.”

  21. This is very brave of you Marina ~ I salute you for sharing this as I was not aware of this ~ I can’t imagine the challenges of your journey & what you had to go through ~

  22. I didn’t know about this traumatic history. Thank you for sharing this even though as you say it is difficult to talk about. I believe personal stories can change people’s minds. Narrative and the sharing of it is a way to protest. Look at Lemn Sissay, he has changed a lot of people’s minds, helped them understand the damage that the care systems has done. Brought about the want and need for change. And as you say fiction too can bring about change and in my opinion is even more powerful. Well done for taking the plunge. And be kind to yourself. Always remember for those of us who have suffered trauma, #selfcare is so so important.

    1. I cannot even begin to compare my experiences with those who have suffered real trauma. It was a whole nation suffering (or at least all the female population), so that made it feel less ‘why me’, if you know what I mean.

  23. As the others have said, this is an incredibly powerful post Marina Sofia. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that you & those you know endured so much pain.

    1. Thank you. I always hesitate a little before sharing such stories, because it feels self-indulgent when others have much harsher stories to tell. (Although I take on board the criticism that there is no hierarchy or monopoly of suffering that Naomi makes.) Given that it was not so well known to others, though, I am glad I did go ahead and share it.

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your story Marina. I had no idea this happened in Romania. The trauma you suffered from your mother touched a nerve with me. I had a similar experience with my mother and to this day, we aren’t close. But those deeply hurtful times gave me passion not only to be a good mother to my children, but to be kind to others.

    I came to the decision of believing my mother did the best she could with what she had. There are certain shows that I can’t watch either, the pain spills out and bitterness threatens to invade my soul. I don’t allow it.

    One of my favorite quotes is from the book, The Help, “Sometimes courage skips a generation, thank you for bringing it back to our family.”

    You are very courageous for being so transparent and I believe others will be blessed by your story. I know it gives me more courage to have a few kindred spirits out in the world. : )

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for understanding my situation.

      I did understand my mother at some level and forgave her time and again, but at some point I realised that I will be a perpetual disappointment to her, but that reflects her own disappointments in life. I certainly have tried to build a more trusting relationship with my children and allow them space to grow rather than demanding that they do things my way.

  25. It sounds like your life prepared you to be an excellent parent to your children, allowing them to grow.
    I could not read The Handmaids’ Tale years ago and I can’t now, although I see it’s back on the NY Times best-sellers’ list. I just cannot bear to read about or see that level of women’s oppression.
    It took a huge political movement in to win legal right to abortion in 1973. Even birth control availability took years to obtain, with women going to jail years ago.
    But the right wing has fought abortion rights and been determined to overturn the law ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. And as you and your readers know, clinics here have been bombed, doctors and other staff and clients assaulted, even killed. Wonderful, caring doctors have lost their lives to these anti-women fanatics.
    A right-winger shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic a few years ago in Colorado, killing a young mother, the partner of a pregnant woman who came with her as they were happy about the pregnancy, and a university police officer.
    And when the current White House resident met with his all male “colleagues” to hammer out a so-called health care bill, they were taking away the contraceptive mandate and maternal care as having to be covered by insurers.
    And now there is a big fight over contraceptive coverage in health plans; this overturn could impact 55 million women. And they are so happy they got another right-wing justice on the Supreme Court so they can overturn reproductive rights.
    So, we’re living with real fear here of loss of rights, but there was a gigantic women’s march on Jan. 21 all around the country and globally. Women’s won’t give up without a fight.
    And I think many women see The Handmaids’ Tale as a cautionary tale about the direction that this administration wants to take women into.
    Ireland seems to be moving in a progressive direction on reproductive rights. And Poland–when a right-wing party introduced an anti-abortion law, women walked out of work and went on strike for a day. The bill was stopped. Women power!

    1. I’ve been watching developments in the US with some concern, so am not surprised that you live in fear and are fighting it every step of the way! I have to admit I’ve never understood the Pro Lifers who are prepared to shoot doctors, nurses and patients to prove that they value the sanctity of unborn life…

  26. I don’t call them that. They’re not “pro-life.” They don’t do anything to help children once they’re born; they don’t campaign for health care, better schools and housing, nutrition programs. The right wing here is fighting free school lunches for children.
    They don’t campaign for women to get maternal care and assistance so they can have children either. It’s anti-women.
    When Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who performed abortions, was killed, the New York Times ran two photos juxtaposed on page 1. The left side was five middle-aged men with anti-abortion signs. The right side was a multinational group of women of all ages with signs, “Women loved George Tiller.” That’s it in a nutshell. Dr. Tiller sympathized with and respected women. He wanted to help them.
    Many women who were building their families and wanted children, but ran into serious problems with pregnancies or the fetuses were not developing properly and would not have survived for long after birth went to Dr. Tiller for abortions. They were heart-broken. Many set up a memorial website for him after his death, and they explained how kind and gentle he was with them — and sympathetic.

  27. Wonderful, moving, inspiring, sad, and brave post, MarinaSofia. I had no idea about what happened in Romania, but it doesn’t feel that far from Atwood’s fiction. Here’s to fiction providing us with the safe context to explore things that we can’t bear to face in our real lives!

    1. Well, I was shocked to hear about ‘disappeared children’ happening in Spain during Franco’s regime (and continuing just after). I suppose a lot of these things were hidden well at the time.

  28. There were “disappeared” children and grandchildren during Argentina’s junta, called the “dirty war.” An excellent movie starring Norma Aleandra is about this. It’s title is “The Official Story.” It’s a classic.

  29. Just came across your post as have started watching The Handmaid’s tale this week. Wow. So brilliantly written and informative. Had no idea this went on, thank you for sharing

      1. Powerful and frightening. Read the book when I was a teenager but that kind of world seemed sort of impossible to imagine? Don’t think I was at all capable to comprehend that reality that actually in real life, in the 21st century this similar vein of horror has occurred and could potentially happen closer to home. Like so many comments, it’s striking a chord with the way politics have played out recently. Have you definitely decided against watching any more of it? This interview with the costume designer of the show is really fascinating from a production angle if you’re interested https://fashionista.com/2017/04/the-handmaids-tale-costumes Am sorry for what you went through as well, you’re incredibly strong 🙂

        1. Tonight is the third episode. I’ve watched the first two, so we’ll see… It’s somehow more frightening than the book, perhaps because I was able to play certain things down while reading.
          Yes, makes me squirm how close it is to what is happening now in US and elsewhere!

  30. Wow, powerful writing. This is such a brave and moving piece – thank you for sharing it. I’ve read your posts before but somehow missed that you’re from Romania. I went there in 1991 on a humanitarian trip to an orphanage and hospital (I’ve often wondered whether we were any real help at all); so your story is all the more meaningful.

    1. Ha, would love to know why you wondered if you were any real help. I’ve heard that from a lot of people doing humanitarian work, which is a bit discouraging. Thank you for your kind words. I have indeed stopped watching The Handmaid’s Tale for now.

  31. Marina Sofia, I have only just come across your post. I am so sorry that you and your countrywomen had to go through those awful experiences, but thank you for making these experiences known. As the saying goes, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. Sadly, we do not seem to learn much from history, do we, looking at how things are going at the moment?
      P.S. I am a big fan of yours – and met Christos Tsiolkas a year ago in Switzerland, where he sang your praises (noticed Barracuda was dedicated to you).

      1. What a small world! I’m catching up with Christos next week and will share this story. And thank you for the compliment – I really appreciate it.

  32. Thank you for writing this and sharing your personal story. It’s frightening how little we know about these things, how such recent events can disappear from the collective consciousness, so it’s extremely powerful and important to hear your first-hand account of living under such a regime. Thank you for your courage and I agree, I think reading the book is more than enough!

  33. Thanks for sharing and being brave enough to share this.

    I knew about the orphanages in Romania but had absolutely no idea of the policy behind them. I can’t even imagine what it must have been.

    According to the comments, most of us didn’t know, so writing about it is useful. Such abominations should never be forgotten.

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