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The Traveller's Tree: A Journey through the Caribbean Islands Paperback – 3 Jan 2005
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Paddy's portrayal of the islands could be said to have jump-started the tourism industry upon which the Caribbean has since largely depended (Geographical Magazine)
Being a natural romantic ... he was able to probe the hidden recesses of this mixed civilisation and to present us with a picture of the Indies more penetrating and original than any that has been presented before (Harold Nicolson, The Observer)
He is the ideal traveller, inquisitive, humorous and vivid in depicting (Sunday Times)
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)
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)
A substantial and fascinating work, with the adventurer's signature across every page (Daily Mail)
No-one has captured and evoked the extraordinary differences between the islands better (Geographical Magazine)
Amusing, knowledgeable, and percipient, it is everything a travel book should be. (The Good Book Guide)
A great of twentieth century literature, now known to generations for A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water.See all Product description
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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. And, if you haven't already read A Time of Gifts - from the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube and Between the Woods and the Water - from the Middle Danube to the Iron Gates, go treat yourself!
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