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A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube by [Fermor, Patrick Leigh]
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A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 170 customer reviews

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Length: 340 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Nothing short of a masterpiece (Jan Morris)

[Fermor's] gloriously ornate account of that epic journey is a classic of what we might call the 'literature of the leg' (Robert Macfarlane, Waitrose Weekend)

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3787 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (10 Oct. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049MPHV2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 170 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,021 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By Jeremy Walton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this remarkable travelogue as a Christmas present for my son-in-law, who enjoyed it so much that he recommended I read it. It's an account of the adventures of a young man as he walks across Europe in the early 1930's from the Hook of Holland as far as the Czechoslovakia-Hungary border (subsequent volumes Between the Woods and the Water and The Broken Road continue his journey on to Constantinople). The author has a keen eye for details, and his memories of some of them have been reinforced by the diary he kept on the trip. But the eye is worthless without the gift of telling. Look at this:

"A rival pallor was spreading at the other end of the sky, and very fast. Behind a flutter of hills a rim of blood-red lunar segment was rising. It expanded to its full diameter and then dwindled; and when the circumference was complete a tremendous crimson moon was casting loose. It changed to orange and then to yellow as it climbed and diminished until all the colour had ebbed away and left it to soar with the aloof and airy effulgence of sliver. [...] While the light was seeking out more and more liquid surfaces for reflection, the sky, where the moon was now sailing towards its zenith, seemed to have become an expanse of silvery powder too fine for the grain to be descried. Silence transcended the bitterns' notes and the industry of the frogs.
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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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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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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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