Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Good Read

If you love travel books, read on.  Otherwise, give today's post a miss!

In the early 1930's Patrick Leigh Fermor, at the age of eighteen, set out to walk from The Hook of Holland to Constantinople.  It was, as it says on the flyleaf of the book, 'the defining experience of his life'.   He wrote two books - his best known works - 'A Time of Gifts' 1977 and 'Between the woods and the water' 1986.   Both books, as you will realise, written well after the experience.

But these two books only took the reader as far as the Iron Gates in Rumania and although he planned to complete the trilogy he somehow could not find the energy and enthusiasm needed to do so.

The Broken Road completes the journey but although Fermor was working on it spasmodically until he died in 2011 it has taken his literary executors (Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper) to edit what was left of his diaries and notes.

The book is mainly about the Balkans area as it existed in the 1930's and is full of wonderful stories about the places he sees and  - more importantly - the ordinary people that he meets.   It is a world that no longer exists - a lot of it geographically and almost all of it in terms of the way in which the people live.  I found it fascinating and really hard to put down.   Now that I have finished it I am going to read it again.   I am also going on to Amazon to see if those two early volumes are still available, and if they are they are going on my wish list.  I had to keep referring to the map in the front of the book as it is an area I know so little about.

If you love travel books, do please put it on your christmas list.

13 comments:

John Gray said...

I am loving the book cover
A work of art

Heather said...

That sounds like a very good book. I am enjoying the last one you recommended - The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. I also bought The Wild Places at the same time - I'm so greedy!

Em Parkinson said...

I agree with John - fabulous cover. I have a strange 1950's book cover that I found in a junk shop without the book in a frame on the bathroom wall. Wouldn't mind that one too!

Elizabeth Wix said...

We all agree -the cover is splendid -never mind the contents.
Who did the cover? Was it Cressida Bell?

Crafty Green Poet said...

sounds like a very interesting book

Gwil W said...

What did he wear for shoes? I always imagine these amazing pedestrians of yesterday tramping along in hobnail boots for some reason. Nicholas Crane walked through Vienna on his way to Istanbul. He said his most valuable piece of equipment was his umbrella.

angryparsnip said...

The first thing I noticed was the lovely cover art !
This sounds like a wonderful read and something I would like.

cheers, parsnip

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I certainly will read it having read the other two volumes some years ago. In both cases I found the imagery in the writing a bit dense first time through and could only appreciate the true beauty of the writing second time around.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh fabulous, fabulous. I've read the first two and have been longing for the final part for ages. It;'s on order at the library… I agree with the last commenter that his stye can be a bit dense and showy, but his boyish enthusiasm and lust for life and experience make up for that.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I will certainly buy this book and read it. I love the first two in the trilogy. We were living in Budapest when I discovered Between the Wood and the Water at the British Embassy library. I'm so glad to hear this was completed.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Never judge a book by its cover they say but it seems that many of you are doing just that! Illustrations and book cover are the work of Ed Kluz, who incidentally comes from Richmond in North Yorkshire and exhibits much of his work up here. I am sure he has a web site if you want to see more of his work.
As to what he wore on his feet in the book, Leigh Fermor often complains about his boots falling to pieces but then usually finds some artisan shoemaker in the next town or, in one case, some nomadic shepherds who mend his shoes with goatskin.

acornmoon said...

I also love the cover design and am one of those people who always judges a book by its cover.

Hildred said...

This all sounds so interesting and I am going to make a note of it, but I have three books on the go at the present, plus my Kobo which only gets read in bed, so I must resist temptation!