Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor's final book

Patrick Leigh Fermor is considered by many to be one of the English Language's finest travel writers, and he was a real old school adventurer. In the early 1930/31, aged 18, he upped and left home after deciding to walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople... thousands of miles. This involved walking through pre second world war Europe, a contintent with one foot in the past, one in the future. It was a fascinating time, and Leigh Fermor is an excellent chronicler of it, as well as an extremely intelligent, erudite scholar and writer.

Later, during the war he become a war hero, working behind enemy lines in occupied Crete, during which he orchestrated the kidnapping of the German commander of Crete (dramatised in the film 'Ill Met by Moonlight' where Leigh Fermor is played by Dirk Bogarde), and later become a writer.

In 1977 he published an account of the first part of his journey in 'A Time of Gifts', considered one of the best travel books of all time. It is not to everyone's taste but it is well worth checking out. There's more packed into this slim book than in 10 lesser books.  In 1986 he published part two, 'Between the Woods and the Water' finished it with 'To Be Concluded'. However the author went through a long period of writers block and it never quite happened. He died in 2011 aged 96, but now finally, the third and final book of his journey has been published. All the words are his own, it has just benefited from editing and polishing as well as introduction by his biographer Artemis Cooper and acclaimed travel Colin Thubron. I can't wait to read it.

If you want to read more about Patrick Leigh Fermor, check out his obituary, or read the recent article from the Telegraph about his final book including extracts.