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A Time of Gifts (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Patrick Leigh Fermor , Jan Morris
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Oct 2005 New York Review Books Classics
At the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off from the heart of London on an epic journey—to walk to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the rich account of his adventures as far as Hungary, after which Between the Woods and the Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. Acclaimed for its sweep and intelligence, Leigh Fermor’s book explores a remarkable moment in time. Hitler has just come to power but war is still ahead, as he walks through a Europe soon to be forever changed—through the Lowlands to Mitteleuropa, to Teutonic and Slav heartlands, through the baroque remains of the Holy Roman Empire; up the Rhine, and down to the Danube.

At once a memoir of coming-of-age, an account of a journey, and a dazzling exposition of the English language, A Time of Gifts is also a portrait of a continent already showing ominous signs of the holocaust to come.


Product details

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books (10 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590171659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590171653
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 16.1 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 654,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Nothing short of a masterpiece (Jan Morris)

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

"[Patrick Leigh Fermor] stands beside Robert Byron as the finest travel writer of his generation." 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 Time of Gifts' is a treasure chest of descriptive writing and contains compelling glimpses of the events which were curdling Europe then. (Spectator) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A Time of Gifts sees Patrick Leigh Fermor setting out at the age of 18 in 1933, on his epic journey across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. This first volume takes the reader as far as Hungary. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 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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15 of 15 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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26 of 27 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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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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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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