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Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure [Hardcover]

Artemis Cooper
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

11 Oct 2012

Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was a war hero whose exploits in Crete are legendary, and above all he is widely acclaimed as the greatest travel writer of our times, notably for his books about his walk across pre-war Europe, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water; he was a self-educated polymath, a lover of Greece and the best company in the world.

Artemis Cooper has drawn on years of interviews and conversations with Paddy and his closest friends as well as having complete access to his archives. Her beautifully crafted biography portrays a man of extraordinary gifts - no one wore their learning so playfully, nor inspired such passionate friendship.

Frequently Bought Together

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure + A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube + Between the Woods and the Water: on Foot to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland - The Middle Danube to the Iron Gates
Price For All Three: 34.68

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719554497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719554490
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Artemis Cooper's funny, wise, learned but totally candid biography reveals Leigh Fermor to be an adventurer through and through . . . page-turning' (Barnaby Rogerson, Independent)

'Artemis Cooper's definitive biography draws on many years' encounters with Fermor, and is probably the most important travel-related book of the year' (Conde Nast Traveller)

'Patrick Leigh Fermor survived enough assaults on his existence to make Rasputin seem like a quitter . . . He was elegant as a cat, darkly handsome, unboreable, curious, fearless, fortunate, blessed with a near eidetic memory, and is surely one of the great English prose stylists of his generation . . . At last his biography has been detailed in full, in Artemis Cooper's tender and excellent book' (Robert MacFarlane, Guardian)

'This book is a primer for those poor souls yet to encounter his work, and a valuable, decoding manual for the multitude who believe that Leigh Fermor's trilogy about his youthful walk from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul marks one of the high points of twentieth-century English prose . . . Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover' (Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph)

'Xenophilia is as English as Stilton. In one of the wonderful letters quoted in this perceptive, haunting and highly readable biography, Patrick Leigh Fermor called living in England "like living in the heart of a lettuce. I pine for hot stones and thorns and olive trees and prickly pears"' (Philip Mansel, The Spectator)

'Happy the hero who, after a lifetime of glorious achievement, in death finds a biographer worthy of his memory. Artemis Cooper . . . makes this marvellous book less a mere life story than an evocation. [Patrick Leigh Fermor] is justly commemorated in this magnificent biography, and will surely be remembered for ever as one of the very best of men' (Jan Morris, Sunday Telegraph)

'Magnificent . . . Cooper's book is the perfect memorial to this remarkable man . . . For those of us who loved him and his work, and for a whole generation of writers who set off in his footsteps, he was the exemplar, showing how magnificently an English life could still be lived. He remains . . . the model to which we still aspire' (William Dalrymple, Financial Times)

'Whether describing a night attack on Crete, a love affair or the political tensions over Cyprus that poisoned Anglo-Greek relations after the Second World War, she writes with a cool hand and clear head. Her book lives up to the majesty of the man' (Country Life)

'Artemis Cooper has done a brilliant job. The story rips along, as Leigh Fermor's life did, with friends and lovers, books and journeys and parties. And in the quieter moments we are left with something far more enduring: a man for whom the world was endlessly fascinating, and who found that he could create for his readers with carefully crafted words the same wonder that it gave him' (Philip Marsden, Mail on Sunday)

'The outstanding achievement in literary biography this year' (Robert McCrum, Observer Books of the Year 2012)

'It is not easy writing a biography of someone who has poured so much of his life into his books, but Artemis Cooper has done a brilliant job' (Mail on Sunday)

'In a splendid biography Artemis Cooper shows how a rather frustrated young man, who found it difficult to conform, changed the course of his life by undertaking an extraordinary journey . . . Cooper has done a sterling job in recounting his time on Crete' (We Love This Book)

'He is the greatest travel writer of the last century, a master of English prose . . . no one has written so well about what it is like to be young and hopeful, with one's future spread before one. Artemis Cooper has done him proud' (Jeremy Lewis, Literary Review)

'Artemis Cooper carries us on a calm, confident journey . . . Cooper has mastered a tremendous amount of material' (Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph)

'Artemis Cooper winningly followed in the footsteps of the great charmer, warrior and yarn-spinner' (Independent)

'Artemis Cooper's biography proved magnificently that a somewhat over-eulogised hero could be well worth the eulogising after all' (Jan Morris, Sunday Telegraph)

'There's a true biographical treat in store with the long-awaited arrival of . . . Patrick Leigh Fermor, the sure-to-be glorious life of the twentieth century's greatest Hellenic traveller' (Sunday Telegraph preview Jan 2012)

'Excellent, well-sourced' (Daily Telegraph)

'By any standards, Patrick Leigh Fermor led an extraordinary life' (Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times)

'Artemis Cooper draws on years of interviews with the author and his friends in this much-anticipated biography' (Guardian)

'Fermor emerges as a man determined to live on his own terms, if not his own means, and who mostly - and most magnificently - succeeded' (Observer)

'I also adored Artemis Cooper's biography of my favourite travel writer . . . in her new biography Cooper has left the perfect memorial to this remarkable man, which is as full of joie de vivre as its subject' (William Dalrymple, Observer Books of the Year)

'An outstanding account of an extraordinary life; tender and evocative, without ever hardening into hagiography' (Guardian Books of the Year 2012)

'The life of an immensely charming man . . . compelling, funny and wise' (Jane Ridley, The Spectator Books of the Year)

'In describing Leigh Fermor's life, Artemis Cooper had often to revisit a told tale while correcting detail, expounding and inserting context. It was not an easy commission, and she has delivered it brilliantly . . . Artemis Cooper's fine biography gives colour and substance to the adventure, and a delicate, sympathetic portrait of the man who made it his life' (Scotsman)

'An admirably fair-minded portrait of the celebrated travel writer and adventurer' (Sunday Times)

'It is not easy to convey the flavour of a man whose fame to a large extent rests on his ebullient personality and conversation but Ms Cooper succeeds admirably in this readable and entertaining book' (The Economist)

'A fine friendly, biography of a heroic, headlong character' (The Times)

'Unputdownable biography' (Big Issue)

'Artemis Cooper has done a fine job of documenting his travels' (Lonely Planet Magazine)

'Tender and excellent' (Week)

'Meticulously researched' (Independent on Sunday)

'Artemis Cooper . . . has done him proud' (Literary Review)

'[Patrick Leigh Fermor's] experiences have been rubbed smooth by much telling, often inaccurate as well as humdrum, and it is very much to Artemis Cooper's credit that she irons out the inaccuracies and places each anecdote in its poper context, backing it up with careful documentation' (Patrick Green, Times Literary Supplement)

'Cooper does this iconic figure proud in a well-researched biography' (Sunday Herald)

'One of the 20th century's truly great men, Fermor is admirably served by this splendid biography' (Lady)

'Cooper does full justice to this fascinating 20th-century Renaissance man' (Saga Magazine)

'A superb biography of the adventurous travel writer and war hero, draws on the years of interviews and complete access to his archives' (Independent)

'A roster of adventure and exuberant derring-do' (Independent on Sunday)

'His writing beautifully evokes exotic people and places. There wasn't nearly enough of it, but what there was has endured' (Peter Lewis, Daily Mail)

'Artemis Cooper's Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure was widely admired for its vivid portrait of a remarkable man' (David Robson, Sunday Telegraph)

'A clear-sighted account of an extraordinary life' (Sunday Express)

'She successfully communicates his enormous enthusiasm for life' (Paul Torday, Sunday Express)

Artemis Cooper reveals a quite extraordinary human being (Good Book Guide)

Affectionate but never credulous, Cooper gets the measure of the man (Guardian)

It is the depth, pace and objectivity that distinguishes this impressive biography (Daily Mail)

Affectionate and amiable biography (Sunday Times Culture)

Cooper makes a familiar life - the adolescent walk across Europe, the derring-do in wartime Crete, the books that established him as one of the great prose writes of the 20th century - seem new (Sunday Telegraph)

Tender and excellent (Guardian)

Artemis Cooper does a wonderful job of retelling the story of how 'Paddy' tramped across Europe in the 1930s, slept with princesses and kidnapped Nazis on his beloved island of Crete. Affectionate but never credulous, Cooper gets the measure of the man (Observer 2013-07-28)

Book Description

The authorized biography shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year, the National Book Awards and the Costa Biography Award.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Wanderer 5 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Patrick Leigh Fermor free-loaded, partied, drank and bonked his way around the world at least twice over in his long and eventful lifetime - and, while he wasn't doing that, wrote travel books that have entranced and inspired readers over half a century. I haven't read all his books yet, but the two I have read, 'A Time of Gifts' and 'Between the Woods and the Water' utterly enchanted me with a profound and lasting effect.

In retrospect, maybe it was inevitable that this biography would be a let-down, but I have seldom looked forward to a book so much - and I so wanted to love this book.

Some of my disappointment does come from the character of PLF, as portrayed in the biography, which is hardly the fault of the author, I know. He does tend to come across as the original couch-surfer, free-loading his way from one bed to the next. I did wonder if, these days, his exploits would be twittered and Facebooked for all to see, warts/crabs and all - and realised that, in an old-fashioned way, I prefer my heroes to maintain some aura of mystery.

But beyond the slight disillusionment with its subject, I found the biography curiously flat and somehow lacking in life and sparkle. It is peppered with names of people and places, but most of these didn't take on any life or meaning for me. I realised that the book was meticulously researched and have every admiration for the author in this respect. But perhaps leaving out some of the bit parts and places and concentrating on fewer characters and incidents would have made for a more satisfying and insightful account of a man who was clearly a complex character.
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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, excellent author, fascinating subject 16 Oct 2012
By Jimbo60
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In less steady hands, this could have so easily become a sychophantic homage to a revered subject and it would be all the weaker for it. While clearly admiring her subject Artemis Cooper also recognizes that Patrick Leigh Fermor was not everyone's "cup of tea", and recounts many hilarious anecdotes that serve to humanize him. I particularly like the cringe-worthy meeting with Somerset Maughn, as well as the impetuous decision to observe one of the Greek civil wars on a borrowed horse. the book dispels many of the myths surrounding him and will undoubtedly form the base for a lot of scholarly analysis of a fascinating life. The portrayal of PLF's wife Joan and his close friend Xan Fielding also come to life in Cooper's writing.

I am an unabashed fan of the subject, Like a lot of Fermor's books I'm sure I will take pleasure inre-reading this . I also sincerely hope that the success of this book leads to a reprint or "kindlizing" of Cooper's book, Cairo during the War - which deserves a retread.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Awfully Big Adventure 8 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A beautifully crafted biography about a brilliant but flawed man, loved by many and justly remembered for his enchanting books. It is written with refreshing honesty about his failings but provides the background to this colourful life and personal understanding of his immense charm. One review I read disparaged PLF as a sponger who never really grew up, but this misses the point of the man entirely - people were clearly captivated by his passionate interest in everything and boundless curiosity about people and languages, and who (although at times exasperating and impossible) inspired great devotion from many. This is a sympathetic portrayal of a member of a fading generation who lived life to the full, and fought a hard and bloody war at great personal cost. I absolutely loved it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost but not quite the right book 12 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a diligent but sometimes flat portrayal of a great artist and greater character, with much on how and where he lived but long stretches without enough on why. Its the opposite of a hatchet job - I loved him just as much at the end as I did before reading the book. Part of the problem with the book is that Cooper is such a howling name dropper, with dozens of names she wouldn't/couldn't omit for whatever reasons when working with all that material. PLF was a name dropper too of course but he transcended all of that by his unbelievable curiosity and his personal courage. There is far too much about Buffy and Binky and Bipsy & agreeable weekends of charades in palaces, and far too little about his inner imaginative life. I did wonder if the core relationship with Joan and their decision (was it a decision?) not to have a family was important - were there a pile of regrets that held him back from writing more?

The fact that he was a bit of a rotter is not a problem at all - of course he was. That he could at times be very insensitive to his surroundings is intriguing and I think the author could have dug away at that more. But when its good its a wonderful book - she tells the same stories as PLF but unpicks the way the stories evolved. Whats actually quite thrilling is how much the stories were indeed true and the book closes on that lovely note. I had previously had a suspicion he might be a bit like David Niven who was obviously much loved and wanted to entertain everyone, but was it seems incapable of telling the truth, or a tale the same way twice. PLF's own books tried to pick that point up by having a dialogue between his young and adult selves but I must confess I was a bit worried the written record would prove to be a series of over-embroidered fantasies.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable biography of a man about whom my thoughts ...
An enjoyable biography of a man about whom my thoughts are strangely divided. He seems to have been a past master at sponging on people and his treatment of women was caddish.
Published 16 days ago by francis
5.0 out of 5 stars Well met in Sunlight.
Excellent biography of a very unusual character and intellectual charmer who had it all. Even a rich, tolerant wife.
Published 1 month ago by biddermyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
evocative life of an adventurer
Published 1 month ago by MartynC
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth it
Great book, very interesting insight into PLF
Published 2 months ago by Chris Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars What a life, what a man
I am so grateful to Mrs Artemis Cooper for writing this biography. Not only did it teach me so much about PLF but it also brought to life a fascinating period of the 20th century. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Valerie David
5.0 out of 5 stars A Extraordinary Biography For An Extraordinary Man and Author
Artemis Cooper has written an extraordinary biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor, successfully revealing the shade and light of Paddy from early boyhood until late in his life. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Wes Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual and exciting life.
The biographer's restrained, simply written account allows the reckless excitement of Leigh Fermor's life to tell its own tale. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Whaler
5.0 out of 5 stars Evaluation of book about PLF
I have all PLF books , but this completes the set . Written beautifully by Artemis Cooper for
one of the heroes of my beloved island , CRETE .....
Published 4 months ago by Panagiotis ECONOMAKIS
4.0 out of 5 stars An adventurer to admire
I read this well-written biography whilst holidaying in the Mani so could appreciate PLF's love of the region and of the Greeks. Read more
Published 4 months ago by PedW
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy biography for an outstanding personality of the 20th Century.
A very well written biography that really brings to life the adventures and experiences of a notable personality of the 20th Century. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eurolindy
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