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Between the Woods and the Water: On Foot to Constantinople from the Hook of Holland: The Middle Danube to the Iron Gates (John Murray Travel Classics) Paperback – 23 May 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Paperback, 23 May 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New edition edition (23 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719555256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719555251
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,701,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The most enjoyable living writer to be published this year (Peter Levi, The Spectator)

As full of zest, joy and delight as its predecessor (Country Life)

I hae never enjoyed a travel book more and I would doubt if I will ever enjoy one so much again (Robin Lane Fox)

'Between the Woods and the Water' is a book so good your resent finishing it. (Sunday Times)

"The finest travelling companion we could ever have... His head is stocked with cultural lore and poetic fancy to make every league an adventure." Christopher Hudson (Evening Standard)

" [I]n this work he is exploring the very furthest boundaries of the genre." Jan Morris. (The Times)

Book Description

This text continues Patrick Leigh Fermor's epic account of his journey aged 18 in 1933, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. Here, he travels down the Danube from Budapest, across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 11 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the sequel to 'A Time of Gifts', and continues the young Leigh-Fermor's walk through the length of 1930s Europe. Here we start from where the previous book left off, at the border into Hungary, and continue through until the Iron Gates border between Rumania and Bulgaria. I immensely enjoyed 'A Time of Gifts', and this book is the perfect companion to it. It is a seamless mix between the world seen through the eager eyes of the nineteen-year-old Leigh Fermor, and a wealth of historical, geographical, linguisitc, and anthropological information, which must have taken most of the intervening decades for him to research. The one drawback of the book is the envy it is bound to create in the reader -- envy of his ability to take a journey such as this in a time now past, and envy (for those who also try to write) at the magnificent prose with which he has captured his memories. Patrick Leigh-Fermor's place in the ranks of the great writers of travel literature is already firmly established, and this is surely one of his finest. If reading this book doesn't inspire you to embark on a journey of your own, then I can only suggest you read it again, only this time with your eyes open.
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Format: Paperback
Leigh Fermor's great classic is extraordinary. His language is immensely beautiful, but I believe that the secret to understand the book is that he is actually painting pictures with words. There are some great set pieces in this second volume such as the Easter ceremonies in Hungary, his unforgettable aristocratic hosts and the chateau life he began to lead after Munich while still camping out from time to time. His descriptions of those country houses, and their denizens, particularly once he crosses into Romania, are like small jewels.

The great glory of this book is the trip he makes in Transylvania: it shows a world which no longer exists (Romanian, Hungarians, Swabians etc all living together in one area) and makes one wish to go there immediately.

Leigh Fermor 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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While precise memories of events must have faded in the fifty years between the journey and the book, the context benefits from the breadth and depth of the man's reading. It made me want to read all his other books (done that) but also to read all that he has read (no chance). I have never come across a better descriptive writer. My son, who is a well read engineer and a harsh critic of pretty much everything, was impressed with this quality. In one of his other books, about the Mani, he mentions, in discussing his home there, that every home should have at least two shelves of reference books. I bet he had a lot more than that.

Buy it, read it, and then go buy his other books.
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Format: Paperback
I read both of Fermor's books of his trek from UK towards Instanbul in sequence, and enjoyed both hugely. It was a great pity he never produced the projected 3rd volume! This (2nd) volume covers his travels through Hungary and Romania, largely by being befriended by local people and being in turn passed on to their friends, so he had the enormous luck of not only their open-handed hospitality but also of their local knowledge. Many of these characters are compelling: I especially loved the studious land-owner who opened the conversation by asking what was Fermor's special research topic. He was clearly disapproving that the 19y old had not got one, and was only mollified by his evidently wide classical reading. Fermor writes perceptively and sympathetically, but his beguiling account is bittersweet as one knows that he is describing a region and people who are on the brink of the horrors of WWII and the dead hand of prolonged totalitarianism. The book ends with an exciting ferry ride through the Danube's Iron Gates gorge - which seemed so spectacular that I decided to visit the place asap, only to discover that it had since been submerged by a dam put up in later more utilitarian times!
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I revelled in "A Time of Gifts", the first volume in a trilogy that recounts Patrick Leigh Fermor's extraordinary journey, which commenced in 1933, when he was 18 years old, and during which he set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. At the end of "A Time of Gifts" we left Paddy in Hungary, and this is where "Between the Woods and the Water" picks up the journey.

In "Between The Woods And The Water", Paddy travels to Budapest and thence across the Great Hungarian Plain, before travelling through Transylvania and the upper Carpathian Mountains, variously walking, riding on horseback, by car, on a boat, and by train,

Paddy continues to share his enthusiasm for life, language, history, nature, religion, people, music, food and anything else that piques his interest. His gift for making friends knows no bounds. In this volume, alongside the usual array of aristocrats, Paddy befriends two communities of Gypsies, young women harvesting, Transylvanian shepherds, an Orthodox rabbi and his sons, and various other people and groups he encounters. It appears there is no one with whom he cannot find common ground despite the differences in language, circumstance and culture.

This book was published in 1986, nine years after "A Time Of Gifts", however both books share the same vivacity and freshness that belies the gap between the original experience and when the books were written. What elevates this book, and its predecessor, is Paddy's gorgeously poetic descriptions, which vividly bring his journey to life.

Another beautifully written travel book, that also variously serves as a book about European history, social history, relationships, youth, lost worlds, and all in the company of the most charming, erudite and enthusiastic travelling companion imaginable.
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