Saturday, 4 January 2014

Patrick Leigh Fermor

I have now finished the whole trilogy of A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water and The Broken Road.   The first two are written by Patrick Leigh Fermor and the third was written by his literary executors after his death in 2011, using material from his diaries.  The three together tell the story of his walk, at the age of 18, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople.  It is fascinating reading not least because it tells the story of countries which are now so changed as to be unrecognisable.  If you like travel books these are for you.

Leigh Fermor was a real swashbuckling character.  I read somewhere that Artemis Cooper (one of his literary executors) invited him to come to dinner after he had been to some gathering where he had drunk 17 glasses of champagne.  She suggested at dinner that he might like water after all that bubbly but he said no, he would like a small whisky.   He half filled a tumbler and put in just a drop of water and after drinking that he drank a bottle of wine with his dinner!

He then suggested to the gathering that he should read them a couple of pages from Vasari's Lives of the Artists, which he did without a single stumble    As I think Tom (Stephenson on my side bar) will agree - they don't make them like that any more.   And he lived well into his nineties.

The reason I am reminded of him today is that the farmer is off shooting and I am on my own.   I shall light the woodburner when I go off my computer and I shall settle down with a cup of coffee to
watch Dirk Bogarde in 'Ill met by Moonlight' an old film DVD which my son has lent me about an escapade in Greece in the Second World War which was led by Leigh Fermor.  I might even allow myself a biscuit although I am trying hard to lose the excesses of Christmas and New Year.  Watercress sandwich for lunch - that should make me feel virtuous again.

16 comments:

Twiglet said...

Christmas has all been put away so i thought I would just pop in here to say Happy New Year. Enjoy your peaceful afternoon. x Jo

George said...

I haven't read these books, but plan to. They sound very interesting and inspirational. Love the new header photo, Pat.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I have the third book in my TBR pile. The second I found in the British Embassy Library in Budapest in 1984 during our first sabbatical year there and was immediately enthralled and could never understand why the last book was not forthcoming. A wonderful writer.

Heather said...

I don't know that writer but he certainly sounds interesting and quite a character. Enjoy the film - I have seen it several times on TV and would enjoy it again.

Gwil W said...

No trilogies for me but over the hols I managed to get through Dostoyevsky's House of the Dead which is a wonderful exploration of the many facets of the human character. One example: two men escape and the rest of the convicts are delighted, they strut about like peacocks, 'they won't catch our boys', 'they'll be half way to Moscow by now' and so on, and so when the men are caught after 7 days and returned to prison the tune changes to 'you must be stupid trying to escape' , 'the guards have given us a hard time because of you pair of idiots' and so on. How very fickle it is, the human psyche.
Somebody gave me an Alice Munro book of short stories so that's the next. It's flashed Nobel Prize Winner. I think it might be very good.

Nick said...

They don't, I think, make them like Mr Leigh Fermor any longer. A pity (though I confess I find his language - and preoccupations during his long walk - sometimes a little too overwrought for my taste. But in the few places where I've followed in his footsteps over recent years (from Holland to Slovakia) I've recognised his descriptions and impressions as incredibly perceptive - and with considerable pleasure.

Terry and Linda said...

Your header is wonderful. Makes me feel like I'm right there!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

The Solitary Walker said...

'The Broken Road' is on order at my local library, and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Robin Mac said...

I dont know that writer either, but shall look for him at our local librady . I have seen that Dirk Bogard film a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Cheers

angryparsnip said...

I was very careful over the holidays but did put on a few pounds so like you... some exercise and careful eating I hope to drop them quickly.

cheers, parsnip

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I so admire your literary choices. I think I've read wide and far, but realize there is so many more to capture and enjoy.

Cro Magnon said...

Christmas gets put away in its box tomorrow, and in the evening we shall go Wassailing; probably to our newly planted orchard.

I enjoyed 'Ill met', by always found DB not really suited to the part.

Bovey Belle said...

He sounded to be a fascinating man and as you say, they've thrown away the mould of the likes of him.

The film sounds like the perfect rounding off of reading the trilogy.

Tom Stephenson said...

P.L.F. is a sort of hero of mine. I thought of him a lot when I visited Crete.

Cloudia said...

One loses weight by eating plenty of healthy, basic food, and refraining from eating it for at least 2 hours before bed. Slow and easy - we NEED our nourishment especially in winter, Dear!


ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to everyone for visiting.Cro, I agree with you completely, I didn't think Bogarde was suitable for the part at all - but I suppose he was the box office draw of the day.
Tom, I would expect PLF to be one of your heroes - your kind of man I think.