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THE TRAVELLER'S TREE Hardcover – 1950


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 403 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; 1st edition (1950)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719504244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719504242
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.7 x 6.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,484,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. Wilson on 13 Feb 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Having read Leigh Fermor's brilliant travelogues of Eastern Europe and Greece, I was looking forward to seeing what he would make of an area of the world that isn't normally a bastion of good travel writing.

Upon finishing it (in spite of the bad reviews on here), I can honestly say I found it incredibly interesting. You have to remember that at the time of his visit to the Caribbean, immense changes were taking place throughout the West Indies, and the almost anthropological survey he conducts of the Windward Islands is fascinating. Moving onto Haiti and the Greater Antilles, he gives a wonderfully detailed account of the Voodoo rituals that occur almost exclusively on that island.

Overall, what you get with this book is Leigh Fermor's usual flowery, passionate travel narrative, coupled with well researched, detailed snippets of history that tie everything together. The vision of him sitting with the Rastafari in a cloud of smoke, discussing distant African kingdoms made me smile, and is so typical of this wonderful writer.

Enjoy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Nichols on 24 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback
After the war in which he had served with such bravery, distinction and honour, Major Fermor had little more than his pen with which to defend himself against any potential accusations of indolence. His brief lecturing appointment with the British Council in Athens had come to an end and PLF knew that he wanted to be a writer.

An opportunity arose when a photographer friend of his, Costa Achillopoulos, asked him whether he wished to accompany him on a trip to the Caribbean and write up the text to the plates of a book he anticipated getting published. In the end the tail wagged the dog, and it turned out that the photographs accompanied the book that PLF wrote ! Anyway it was the big escape for Paddy from dreary post-war Britain and to gild the lily of this unforeseen adventure he invited his girlfriend Joan Rayner to join them.

No book written by Fermor has ever been mundane and conventional - he is hereditarily incapable of creating any such thing - and this first publication of his sets the tone for his subsequent writing. He is at great pains in the preface to make clear that his work should not be mistaken for a guide to the Caribbean. PLF's interests are historical, anthropological and architectural rather than a mere inquiry into the health of an island's economy and those assets it might have to further the development of tourism.

He is deeply concerned with the legacy of slavery. He is earnestly politically correct but always with a slightly sardonic smile, and so devotes much space to minority black communities and practices like voodooism. One is led to believe this primitive religious devotion took root in the Caribbean as a form of escapism in a difficult world where colour and class still mattered although there was no actual apartheid after abolition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J G H on 1 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Patrick Leigh Fermor's book, though written some sixty years ago, remains the unsurpassed prose masterpiece about the archipelago of islands that make up the Antilles. It describes in fascinating and erudite detail the peoples, the societies and the cultures that took over this region after Columbus 'discovered' it in 1492, and which still colour it today.
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As I - and many other reviewers - have remarked Patrick Leigh Fermor had the enviable ability to write near-lyrical prose. But he went much further and, as an historian and a skilful observer of people, his books are always engrossing, entertaining and informative.

In the preface to 'The Traveller's Tree' (written in the late 1940s) he cautions that it must not 'be mistaken for a guide to the Caribbean. It is nothing more than a personal, random account of an autumn and winter spent wandering through some of the islands ... its ultimate purpose, if it must be defined, is to retransmit to the reader whatever interest and enjoyment we encountered. In a word, to give pleasure.'

It's an accurate caveat for a book that explores the vastly different religions, languages, history, culture, agriculture and geography of several of the Caribbean islands. Leigh Fermor's description of witnessing a day-long Voodoo festival, along with a brief foray into the (hopefully now defunct) practices and rites of cannibalism, is matched by an insightful summary of the slave trade and the effect it - together with the Spanish, French, and English privateers - had on the last 200 year's history of the various islands.

Like all his other books it's an intriguing and highly enjoyable story.

I must, however, admit to being somewhat amused by the convoluted sequence of his island hopping. As any map of the Caribbean will show, Guadeloupe to Dominica via Martinique isn't a particularly logical route. Particularly when followed - again in sequence - by Barbados, Trinidad, several of the Leeward Islands and then, finally to Haiti and Jamaica.

Perhaps some of the cruise lines ought to to consider this as an itinerary?

Read and enjoy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book seems very dated and Fermor's racist language does not sit well with the contemporary reader. Our attitudes to race and class and to language have evolved and matured since 1950. As a 'Paddy Fan' I was very disappointed.
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