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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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on 18 November 2003
Is there really any greater literary event than the arrival of a new work by Leigh Fermor? Here is English prose of the very highest order with amazingly evocative portraits of people and places. There really is nobody else who writes such gorgeous prose, is so wonderfully authoritative (and loving) of people, places, language and culture.
I did wonder about buying this volume as, almost inevitably, I have all of his major published works on my bookshelf. But even when reading excerpts from classics like 'A time of Gifts' I felt I was getting acquainted with the people and places for the very first time.
But there are lots of unpublished gems here - or at least pieces that have been published in obscure and sometimes defunct publications.
The book is based on sections: travel; Greece; people; books as well as a section called 'flotsam' that includes a lovely piece on gluttony and a marvelous letter to Diana Cooper.
Paddy is as remarkable as ever. If I've not given this five stars it is only because it reminds me (so forcibly) that we are still awaiting the final installment of the trilogy covering the walk from Holland to Constantinople. But, anyhow, while we're all waiting the 'Words of Mercury' will simply encourage us to re-read the back catalogue. And who knows; when we've finished, perhaps the new volume will be ready!
I really can't believe that anyone reading this review will not have read Paddy's work before. But if you haven't, my goodness, your in for the literary treat of a lifetime!
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on 17 May 2017
If you like Paddy's writing you'll love this. Real adventures, fantastic writing. Eloquent English
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VINE VOICEon 27 January 2009
In addition to the two reviews above - yes, some of it is familiar; fifty-five pages from 'Time of gifts' and 'between the woods and the water', but - oh joy - we get a bit of part III of The Walk, 'a cave on the Black Sea', obscurely published in the Holiday Magazine of May 1965. That alone makes it worth the price, I'd say. Another thirty pages from 'Mani' and 'Roumeli'; and - andra moi ennepe, Mousa - twelve pages on abducting a General, from a report written for the Imperial War Museum in 1969.
Bits from 'the Traveller's tree'; articles from the Spectator; biographical bits, book reviews, and even a section called, simply, 'flotsam'. It is all most enjoyable, and his way of writing gives me jolts of pleasure; it is the way the words fit together, calling up vistas, smells, unseen mysteries and long-gone times.
I am not quite sure why everyone alweays calls Leigh Fermor a travel writer. Sure, he travels a lot; but surely, he is a people writer first of all. And a history writer, a myth writer, a place-and-atmosphere writer; a wonderful writer. Five stars, even if some of the reviews are too erudite for me. A trove of treasure, this one. I recommend it to your attention, and pleasure.
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on 13 February 2012
It does seem rather unfair that God could have seen fit to provide the late Sir Paddy with so much talent; I wish some of it could have been pushed in my direction!

Sir Paddy Leigh Fermor was a decorated war hero, secret agent, adventurer and traveller - but most of all, he was one of the finest writers of his generation. His prose has seldom been bettered and my reading of his books often has me racing to my English dictionary - my Greek dictionary, too! - for clarification.

In this well put-together anthology, my favourite is the Greek section, especially the `Supper in the Sky' chapter from `Mani'. It's almost possible to smell the roast lamb as it's served up in the tower, sixty feet above ground level and the imagined thoughts of the shipboard passengers are a delight. Until now, I was unaware that Sir Paddy had written an account of the `Ill met by Moonlight' episode in wartime Crete; one wonders what precisely would have happened to General Müller (the original target for abduction, instead of General Kreipe) due to the extreme brutality meted out to the Cretans by the German forces under his command - nothing good, I fear!

Artemis Cooper has done a very fine job in cobbling these extracts together. I understand that she and Anthony Beevor are currently working on Sir Paddy's biography, for publication later this year; as far as I'm concerned, it can't come soon enough.
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on 1 December 2015
What a find! I had come across him in one of the books about the SOE operations during WWII & knew he became a travel writer but it is more than that - art, architecture, literature & literary figures in Eastern Europe, Greece & Spain. Lived in many of the countries for a time. Very readable & fascinating!
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on 12 December 2013
Purchasers of this book must be aware that more than 60% of its contents are selected extracts from PLF's other books. It is therefore an ideal gift to give to anybody remotely interested in literature who has not heard of him - although I suspect this category of person has greatly diminished in size in recent years ! The remaining pieces are all extremely interesting and would be difficult for Paddy's fans to unearth otherwise for themselves. They include Paddy's contribution to "The Pleasure of Reading", a book edited by Antonia Fraser, some heartfelt and magnanimous orbituaries for Roger Hinks, Iain Moncreiffe, George Katsimbalis and John Pendlebury; a report for the War Office, three entertaining book reviews and finally writing grouped under "Flotsam" that included an unusual piece published in the Spectator in 1994 where Paddy's ingenious mind makes 'Greek Stones Speak'. Here is a brief example.
"What Gable ?"
"We'll frieze in this gutta!"
"Do you ....caryatid ?"
"Mmm ! But don't telamon !"
I do not suppose Paddy ever descended from Parnassus and deigned to play a mundane game of "Scrabble", but I should not have liked to find myself in competition with him playing parlour games involving words. Yet I think the price of this paperback is warranted by that piece of trivia alone !
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on 3 November 2004
... but if you already own all his books, be warned that about half this anthology is made up of extracts from Mani, Roumeli, A Time to Keep Silence, A Time of Gifts and other books. However, there are some interesting previously uncollected articles, reviews and profiles.
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on 1 October 2011
Probably the best introductory work for those lucky souls who are not yet familiar with the writings of Patrick Leigh-Fermor, and a delightful "best of" for those who already are. Convenient segment length makes this book ideal loo reading!!
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on 22 April 2012
Excellent - an unending source of brilliant writing which commands admiration of his enquiry into human character,languages and racial tradtions. I couldn't ask for better.
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on 11 May 2015
This book is an excellent introduction to the many books of an amazing travel-writer/philosopher/sage and savant. These selections will make the thoughtful reader want to open the casements on faery lands not so much forlorn as fascinating.
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