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Walking the Woods and the Water: In Patrick Leigh Fermor's Footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn Paperback – 20 Mar 2014
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Nick Hunt has written a glorious book, rich with insight and wit, about walking his way both across and into contemporary Europe. He set out as an homage to Patrick Leigh Fermor's legendary tramp across Europe in the early 1930s, but his journey became - of course - an epic adventure in its own right. A book about gifts, modernity, endurance and landscape, it represents a fine addition to the literature of the leg. (Robert Macfarlane, author of The Wild Places and The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot)
With Walking the Woods and the Water, Mr. Hunt has created an illuminating addition to what the travel writer Robert Macfarlane calls 'the literature of the leg'. The shepherds and the fishermen are long gone, but Mr. Hunt controls his nostalgia and avoids mimicking Leigh Fermor's flamboyant style. Still, his inspiration rubs off, like the skin on Mr. Hunt's feet. (Wall Street Journal)
This moving and profoundly honest book sometimes brings a sense of unlimited freedom, sometimes joy, sometimes an extraordinary, dream-like dislocation: always accompanied by a dazzling sharpness of hearing and vision. I see now how that youthful walk informed so much of Paddy's style. Before setting out Hunt was going to write to Paddy. The letter was never written, and by the time he set off, Paddy was dead. How touched and fascinated he would have been to read this book. (Artemis Cooper, author of Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure and co-editor The Broken Road)
Vivid and hard-won. (Giles Foden Condé Nast Traveller)
In his 2,500-mile journey, which took him through eight countries, he nearly froze to death and he had had innumerable encounters with the kindness of strangers. Hunt's narrative mixes description elegantly with reportage. (New Statesman)
An effective, no, beautiful accompaniment to Fermor's own books. (Booklist, ****Starred review)
Hunt went in search of a good old-fashioned adventure and his vivid off-the-beaten-track encounters are coupled with personal anecdotes and an indomitable spirit. (Geographical)
With Walking the Woods and the Water, Hunt succeeds in honoring his predecessor. With elegant language, he describes the landscape, the people and culture, and his own perspective, offering an exquisite picture of his walk. Travelers and hikers will feel the itch to move when reading his gorgeous prose. (Foreword Reviews)
Deliciously lyrical. A very enjoyable read. (newbooks Magazine)
Delightful, balanced and extremely well-written...an impressive and timely effort. A worthy literary tribute to the classic of British travel writing. (Vitali Vitaliev, author of Passport to Enclavia)
Although I've read both Nick's book and Leigh Fermor's I have to say, I enjoyed Nick's much more. Nick writes more like a contemporary travel-writer where personal experience and anecdotes take priority. Nick's book is much more accessible, while also inspiring a sense of wonder in his readers at his fantastic feat of walking such a great distance with so little in the way of resources. While the style of writing may be different, the adventurous and resourceful spirit is the same, and for modern readers, Nick's book will I think be more enjoyable than Leigh Fermor's. (A Common Reader)
A most enjoyable read and a worthy tribute to the originals. (Caroline Sanderson The Bookseller)
Walking in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor from Rotterdam to Constantinople, Nick Hunt found that, 78 years later, everything and nothing has changed. (Daily Telegraph interview with author)
A brave achievement. Hunt's admiration for his celebrated predecessor is clear, and his curiosity is compelling. (The Anglo-Hellenic Review)
Using Patrick Leigh Fermor's books as his only travel guide, Nick Hunt trekked some 2,500 miles through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. His aim? To have an old-fashioned adventure.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Hunt was following in the footsteps of the great Patrick Leigh Fermour who walked the same route in 1933-34. PLF’s writing is incomparable and it is perhaps courageous of Hunt to try to follow in his literary footsteps. Hunt has a different writing style, but in my view it is strong enough to be judged on its own merits and not to be found wanting.
For all those who have read PLF’s a A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, (and if you have not I urge you to do so) and thought at the end I wondered what happened to the people that he spent sometime with along the way then Hunt’s book will give you some of the answers.
Just as PLF gave us a snapshot of European life at a particular time – pre-WW2 - so does Hunt - post WW2 and post the fall of communism in eastern Europe. Thus Walking the Woods and the Water makes for a fascinating read and device by which to make comparisons. Much has changed of course, but some things remain the same, for example the simmering feud between Hungarians and Romanians over land.
As does PLF, so does Hunt, give us an account of the changes in the landscapes, languages, cultures, physical appearance and attitudes of the people of the eight countries through which he walks. This all goes to show us how diverse Europe and its people are.
I thoroughly recommend this book, you’ll not be disappointed.
I've gone through all the book (skimming through the aforementioned descriptions) because his prose is more than correct and reads very well. Nevertheless, there is no soul in the characters he meets (usually dispatched with a brief physical description and one or two vague quotes) or sense of purpose and charisma in his journey. I haven't felt moved nor jealous of his experience for a second, most days and encounters seem rather bland and dispassionate.
The main premise of the book (how much is there of PLF's Europe nowadays?) is relatively well maintained throughout the pages although it becomes repetitive (dusty paths becoming highways, empty spaces are now blocks of apartments, the romanticized aura of the once ruling aristocracy has been replaced by the horrible consequences of the communist hangover...) and not very well documented (I get it, he decided not to do much of a background research prior to the trip. That doesn't mean he couldn't do it after. In my opinion, this would help notably the depth of his arguments and the overall value of his book).
I'm impressed with Nick's achievement and don’t regret reading the book which I would recommend to those who loved the original books but overall it didn’t hold my attention more than 3 stars.
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