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4.5 out of 5 stars
143
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos
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on 1 October 2013
Don't get me wrong, much of it is in PLF's inimitable style, and frankly it's a great relief to (almost) finish the journey having been stuck in limbo at the Iron Gates for several years since reading volume 2.

But of course having been compiled by his biographer and literary executor from the notes he left behind, it's not exactly what PLF would have written had he finished it himself. I was particularly disappointed by whole sections that PLF couldn't remember, and by the inclusion of quite a lot of material about what happened to Romania and Bulgaria after the impending war and from some of PLF's subsequent visits - which all feels rather like padding and an unnecessary diversion.

In my view it doesn't work as a stand-alone piece of literature, so if you haven't read the first two volumes don't start here. If you have, then it completes the journey, and the trilogy.

This book documents, in a slightly unsatisfactory manner, the final missing piece from what was, by any measure, an extraordinary life.
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on 12 November 2013
Some books are so beautiful that one's reading pace is slowed to make the pleasure last the longer. One such book, The Broken Road, stands alone from the rest of Patrick Leigh Fermor's work, and Paddy hesitated to finish it not slowed by pleasure but by the enormity of working with seven decades of memory. Paddy's other work I have read often, at least twice, given to pausing by the sheer density of the material. This book is different. The scholarship, the elegant turn of phrase, the crafted picture be it of scene or character, yes all is here as always, but now includes so much of Paddy that, although it may be unintentional both on the part of Paddy and of his brilliant editors, Artemis Cooper and Colin Thubron, the reader is 'taken up' (to use Paddy's own phrase) by the author to walk each step with him.
One senses the excitement of the contrasting cities of architectural elegance or aged and strange curiosities, the challenge of untamed plains and glorious mountains, the beauty of a Europe pre-WW2, pre-communist restrictions, then one feels the depression of storms and soggy valleys, challenging mountain passes and a billet in a peasant's hovel. The chance encounter of Paddy, Greek fishermen and Bulgarian shepherds and the ensuing party and dancing in a vast cave is a classic. This is Europe but one few have experienced, and although I could say happily history has left a Rumania and Bulgaria in part still recognisable from PLF's talented description it is in reality a world which was thought vanished and which lives again through these pages.
The book is in two distinct parts, the larger part drawn PLF's memories, although he had been reunited with his Green Diary and he had already written "A Youthful Journey", the building blocks for The Broken Road, they were never collated together by the author or by his editors. The raison d'ȇtre for the walk to reach Constantinople (never Istanbul) from the Hook of Holland was achieved but curiously Paddy's thoughts on reaching his goal were scarcely recorded. The epilogue, so to speak, is a word for word inclusion of a diary written as he walked between monasteries on Mount Athos in the depths of winter. This last masterpiece has less descriptive prose, undoubtedly that would have been achieved had Paddy had the strength to complete the work to his satisfaction; as a woman I would have loved more intricate detail on the frescoes and architecture of the monasteries; but given this diary was never intended for publication the chapter is a gem.
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on 16 November 2016
I was in two minds about reading this book because it was published after Leigh Fermor's death and he hadn't finished it. Thubron and Cooper's edit is light hand-handed and produced a fitting last leg to this epic trilogy. The Mount Athos diaries in particular are fascinating, being verbatim records from the 19 year-old rather than filtered through the lens of maturity. If you liked A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, you really will enjoy this!
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on 10 August 2017
Not up to the same standard of the first two volumes (understandable: he didn't finish it) but the editors have done an excellent job of "completing" it
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on 15 August 2017
Another in the trilogy. Good book.
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on 26 July 2017
not as good as the others
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2013
I have to admit to some trepidation when hearing that the final volume of this great trilogy was to be pieced together from the diaries and journals of PLF. I should have been reassured by the knowledge that both Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper would be at the helm, but nerves still prevailed as I dipped in for the first time. I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that the first two volumes of this extraordinary trilogy were the sole province of PLF and that the final "reconstruction" would somehow not live up to expectations. I was wrong!

The third volume is an absolute delight from beginning to end. PLF's voice (and what a voice) comes across loud and clear. The final chapters on Mount Athos are worth the price of entry alone. Witty, erudite, vivacious and, above all, a fitting last testament to a great writer who will be sorely missed.
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on 2 December 2015
A little short of the first two, but still fascinating
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on 26 January 2016
Really enjoyed reading this book
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on 8 October 2015
brilliant
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