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A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube [Paperback]

Patrick Leigh Fermor
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 8.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

15 Mar 2004

In 1933, at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on an extraordinary journey by foot - from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the first volume in a trilogy recounting the trip, and takes the reader with him as far as Hungary.

It is a book of compelling glimpses - not only of the events which were curdling Europe at that time, but also of its resplendent domes and monasteries, its great rivers, the sun on the Bavarian snow, the storks and frogs, the hospitable burgomasters who welcomed him, and that world's grandeurs and courtesies. His powers of recollection have astonishing sweep and verve, and the scope is majestic.


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Frequently Bought Together

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 + The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos
Price For All Three: 24.67

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (15 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719566959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719566950
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Nothing short of a masterpiece (Jan Morris)

A treasure chest of descriptive writing (Spectator)

Not only is the journey one of physical adventure but of cultural awakening. Architecture, art, genealogy, quirks of history and language are all devoured - and here passed on - with a gusto uniquely his (Colin Thubron, Sunday Telegraph)

Every page of this book is distinguished by an image, a metaphor, a flash of humour always original and sometimes as incisive as a laser beam. (Vincent Cronin)

A tremendous journey ... and he's fabulous company (Manchester Evening News)

This is a traveller's tale at its infectious and informative best; vividly remembered and beautifully written (Church Times)

John Murray is doing the decent thing and reissuing all of Leigh Fermor's main books ... But what else would you expect from a publisher whose commitment to geography is such that for more than two centuries it has widened our understanding of the world? (Geographical Magazine)

Rightly considered to be among the most beautiful travel books in the language (Independent)

Bringing the landscape alive as no other writer can, he uses his profound and eclectic understanding of cultures and peoples ... to paint vivid pictures - nobody has illuminated the geography of Europe better (Geographical Magazine)

Book Description

The great travel classic, first published in 1977 and recounting an epic journey of nearly 50 years before, now available in John Murray B-format for the first time.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, a must read........... 28 Jun 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first book of two describing a 1,200 mile walk from Holland to Constantinople undertaken in 1934 when the author was 18 years old. The book was written some forty years later, events and people recalled from memory and notes in a diary.
The language of this book is pure poetry, just a delight to read. The author beautifully describes amazing countryside, castles, rivers, fascinating and incredibly generous people and a way of life in parts of Europe that were forever destroyed by the war. He walked through Germany during the time that Nazism was in the ascendancy, giving hope and optimism to a nation that had long been on its knees. It is fascinating to read about the excitement that Nazism brought to Germany in 1934 with the knowledge of the destruction and horror that it brought to the World just a few short years later.
The author met the most amazing people, a lot through good luck and fortune, but a lot to do with the fact that the author comes across as a delightful companion; polite, intelligent and with a young man's enthusiasm for life and living.
I can't wait to read the second part, 'Between the Woods and the Water'.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like vintage port, to be savoured drop by drop 26 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback
I stumbled on this book by chance having nothing else to read at the time. I was intrigued from the start by his letter in the preface about his time in wartime Greece and how poetry crossed the cultural and military barriers of political prisoners. Then the real journey unfolded and I found myself re reading whole paragraphs just to savour his wonderfully poetic and detailled descriptions of life in 1930's Europe. The rather idyllic freedom with which he travels from village to town to city and across borders, lodging in Innkeeper's attics and medieval castles and meeting every kind of character from jolly German burghers stuffing themselves with pork and beer to ascetic scholars discussing some latin prose, is all the more nostalgic, set as it is against the early stirrings of the Brown Shirts who later terrorised Europe till 1945. His descriptions of architectural gems, social outings and the countryside in all seasons really brings that epoch back to life and we mourn its passing. His journey skips along at a pace in places and dawdles along in others as his interest is fired and friendhips are forged or rekindled. He meets so many strangers who treat him so kindly in a world where the traveller on foot was becoming an oddity and yet hospitality and trust abounded. PLF's description of the raspberry liqueur he shared with the German publican is just one of the many gems that adorn this delightful story of a young man's travels in middle Europe. i usually prefer fiction to travelogues but what a joy to come across this book at a time in my life that i can really appreciate its many levels and twists and turns. At times it almost feels like a fairy story and at others there is the faint hint of the future horrors released by nazism. Read more ›
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great travel classic and much more 4 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Leigh Fermor's great classic is extraordinary. His language is immensely beautiful, but I beleive that the secret to understand the book is that he is actually painting pictures with words. There are some great set pieces: the walk in Holland, breakfast in Rottterdam, the cold, the chateau life he began to lead after Munich. He is a polymath and the book is not really travel literature at all, or if it is, it is of a totally different order to anything I have ever read. Will Leigh Fermor write the promised third part of the great trilogy?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely magical lyrical delight 23 July 2009
Format:Paperback
I bought this book on the strength of the reviews having stumbled across it on one of my Amazon rambles and I am very glad that I did. I am giving it 5 stars and my own review as I wanted to join the already substantial voices that praise this book.

The lyrical prose that Leigh Fermor uses deftly draws us into this almost magical Europe. He summons up images from a bygone era without once touching on cliche or the sometimes pedestrian descriptions often found in travelogues. Following him from the ice-bound canals of the polders of the Netherlands, down the castle strewn Rhine and across the snowy mountains and woods of Bavaria and Austria we are introduced to a range of fascinating characters and lost customs. Tableaus of Breughelesqe scenes in tankard-filled inns or moonlit trudges across a starlit landscape come alive in his skilled hands.

Clearly an incredibly talented linguist, observant social anthropologist and knowledgeable individual he uses his talents liberally to describe and illuminate Europe in the early 1930's. The fact that it was written with the benefit of hindsight adds to the book's rich detail rather than detracting from it.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a magical journey 11 Aug 2005
By jmm
Format:Paperback
I have read this book at least three times. It never fails to entrance me.
This records not just a journey , but also a way of life and an era which the second world war changed for ever.
His eye for detail and gifts of lively desciption more than stand the test of time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book, an adventure story. Only 17, he walks from London to Budapest in the early thirties, a remarkable feat in itself, this book is like a memoir of that trip. Along the way he shares his thoughts on the people he meets and the places he visits. Interspersed with objective and sympathetic observations of history art and culture, mixed with hindsight. The book shows us a glimpse of what the people of Europe were like just before the second World War. Fermor has a rare gift in the way that he understands and can explain what he sees.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous, scholarly and entertaining.
I enjoyed this very much and it is amazing that he did this journey so young. I was moved by his family history and the sense of him starting to feel good about himself. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Highdreamer
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
I made the mistake of reading part 2, 1st. Excellent book, so well written. Dichotomy, that PFL, was seen to fail or conform at school, but absorbed and gained so much from... Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. W. Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars Give yourself plenty of time for this read!
This is a wonderful book but requires dedicated, concentrated reading. I fear I am guilty of saying the author had adjectival diarrhoea - but that is probably because I am jealous... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Speedy Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Excellent! Great book, Extremely interesting author. Wonderful picture of Central Europe before the Second World war. Highly recommende to all and sundry.
Published 2 months ago by DRS J VAN TOUR
3.0 out of 5 stars A time of gifts
Interesting to see how the world has changed since this book was written. He certainly managed to get himself into many of the upper class families.
Published 2 months ago by Jeannette
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful
This book is a wonderful account of a young Englishman’s journey, on foot, from the Hook of Holland to Esztergom on the Hungarian border. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sally Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars a time of gifts
A description of a very important time by an author who writes beautiful english and shows great insight A deep and persistent traveller
Published 3 months ago by j walker
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull
The book does not live up to its exciting promise. I found it dull, uneventful and plain boring. There are too much description of everyday mundane things. Not my cup of tea.
Published 3 months ago by Rene Townsend
4.0 out of 5 stars So erudite...
I am well aware of the high esteem this book is held in, and I do believe that the author was an admirable, brave man, and this volume, describing the first part of a walk he... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Four Violets
4.0 out of 5 stars Great travel book
In 1933, at the age of 19, Fermor decided that he wanted to walk across Europe to Constantinople. Starting in Holland, after catching the boat from London, he has his passport, a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
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