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.