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The Violins of Saint-Jacques: A Tale of the Antilles by [Leigh Fermor, Patrick]
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The Violins of Saint-Jacques: A Tale of the Antilles Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 148 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Excellent ... A graceful picture of life on an unusual and exotic island that has both colour and charm (Times Literary Supplement)

A brilliant set piece ... Patrick Leigh Fermor has a fine visual imagination (New Statesman)

A stylish and accomplished piece of sustained good writing ... with a strange beauty (Glasgow Herald)

Patrick Leigh Fermor evokes the imaginary past with unremitting devotion ... enchantingly pretty (Observer)

Elegant and vividly exotic ... The story of the island and the echoing romance of its last Mardi Gras is done with brilliant aesthetic feeling and with a charming philosophic melancholy (The Times)

This little masterpiece is a perfect tour de force (Simon Winchester)

An exuberant and highly-developed traveller's tale, garlanded with deeply enjoyed and lovingly precise detail (Sunday Times)

Beautiful is the adjective which comes uppermost ... [Patrick Leigh Fermor] is a writer with outstanding descriptive powers (John Betjeman, Daily Telegraph)

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)

brings alive the glamour and the passions of the planters in their heyday (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)

Book Description

Patrick Leigh Fermor's first, and only, novel.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 732 KB
  • Print Length: 148 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (10 Oct. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049MPH1W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,897 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Patrick Leigh Fermor joins the pantheon of writers such as Choderlos de Laclos who bothered the world with one perfect novel and then, for one reason or another, declined to pen another. Thank heavens he didn't deny us the joy of his travel writing.

This slim volume of elegant prose will linger in your imagination long after you put it down. I can think of no other writer who understands the cadences and beauty of the English language to such a high degree. Like a Corinthian column: ornate, polished, decorative and yet reassuringly solid, he is a virtuoso performer and should be far better known and revered than he is.

Buy this book. It is wonderful. Then go out and buy a Time of Gifts, the first volume telling of his epic walk to Constantinople at the age of 18.
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Before reading `The Violins of Saint-Jacques' I'd read and enjoyed a number of his books (although, if I'm honest, I had some problems with Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese - and found the last chapter of Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece a little strange). The details are spelt out in my reviews of the two books.

Although the telling of the story of `The Violins of Saint-Jacques' happens in the recent past it is, essentially, the tale of an almost-romance that took place many, many years earlier. His word-picture of life on that small and near-idyllic Caribbean island is beautifully detailed and utterly believable - including the presence of an ignored but far from dormant volcano.

The fluent style of writing is typically Paddy although his normal detour into historical and religious detail is minimal - and would, in this setting, have been decidedly out of place.

The eternal playing of the violins of Saint-Jacques (but only, of course, for those that can hear them) gives a deft twist to the finale of an imaginative and cleverly crafted story.

Read and enjoy...
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Format: Paperback
The Violins of St Jacques is a masterpiece in short fiction. Heart Breaking and warming in equal measure, it is a story that lingers in the mind long after the 144 pages are read and shelved. It is amazing how much life and colour Leigh-Fermor manages to pack into this short tale - well worth a read.
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To conjure up such a world, so vividly must be a gift well, well beyond the reach of even the most lauded writers - forget the dust jackets that scream "international best-seller" - and especially those where the writers names appears several sizes bigger than the book's title; this is the real deal. Patrick's writing never fails, and for the life of the book in your hands, expect nothing less than a cerebal, spiritual and aesthetic journey - Patrick's pictures floating across your mind, settling, enlightening.
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Format: Paperback
When Major Patrick Leigh Fermor DSO, OBE, left the army at the end of the 2ed World War he once again became foot-loose and fancy-free. Not for him a stockbroker's life of keeping up with the Jones's with a two-tone Humber Super Snipe and a mock Tudor residence in Godalming ! We have become the gainers in as much as he decided to explore the Caribbean and because out of it came "The Travellers' Tree" in 1950 and his unique novel, this superb gem, three years later.

Of course we must admit that PLF was an inveterate elitist and romantic royalist to boot and the storyline to this remarkable book must have welled up over a period of time in countless daydreams or from strands of fragments remembered from the night while he was garavanting about in that part of the world. Little by little he assembled his armoury of telling detail - the elaborate dress, the cornucopia of food and drink, the mannerisms, the local French accent - nothing became forgotten. Although the novel is very short it is as though it is stitched in "petit point". But the effect is grandiose.

It is exceptionally cleverly constructed with the narrator in the first person singular exchanging places with Berthe de Rennes whose early-life experience forms the real subject matter of this book. She is relating her story to him informally over several meals at table at her home on a Greek Island half a century on. However, because she had been able to capture the atmosphere of the time and place in sketch books which reinforce her moving story the narrator becomes completely immersed in the drama of the unfolding events and so in parts takes on the telling. In so doing he immerses us, the readers, with him as though we too are witnesses. The plot may not be wholly believeable, but in spite of that I believe this to be great literature.
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This is a novel - the writing superb but all I could think of was Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the more recent film Apocalypse Now. I prefer his travel writing particularly A Time to be Silent.
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Based on a real incident in the Caribbean, the eruption of Mount Pelee on Martinique in 1902, this little book wonderfully brings to life the people and circumstances of that time and place. You might want to read the Traveller's Tree, also by PLF after reading this gem. Best thing on the Caribbean I have ever read! Don't miss it
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Format: Paperback
A delightful little book, sparkling with colour and light and nostalgia. The whirl of the party and the horror of the eruption are both drawn out longer than one might think possible, but the writer holds our attention wonderfully well. Even after setting aside the French location, I still find it hard to believe that this jewel-like short novel was not written by a French author.
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