Patrick Leigh Fermor by Patrick Leigh Fermor
A Life in Letters

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Recounting triumph and tragedy, these letters help round out a portrait of a writer who had long ago reconciled himself to a minor role in literary history—but who deserves a wide readership all the same.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The first extensive collection of letters written by war hero and travel writing legend Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Handsome, spirited, and erudite, Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and one of the greatest travel writers of his generation. He was also a wonderful friend.

The letters in this collection span almost seventy years, the first written ten days before Paddy’s twenty-fifth birthday, the last when he was ninety-four, and the correspondents include Deborah Devonshire, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper, and his lifelong companion, Joan Rayner. The letters exhibit many of Fermor’s most engaging characteristics: his lust for life, his unending curiosity, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of language, his exuberance, and his tendency to get into scrapes—particularly when drinking and, quite separately, driving.

Here are plenty of extraordinary stories: the hunt for Byron’s slippers in one of the remotest regions of Greece; an ignominious dismissal from Somerset Maugham’s Villa Mauresque; and hiding behind a bush to dub Dirk Bogarde into Greek during the shooting of Ill Met by Moonlight. The letters radiate warmth and gaiety; many are enhanced with witty illustrations and comic verse, while others contain riddles and puns. Every one of them entertains.
 

About Patrick Leigh Fermor

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Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was an intrepid traveler, a heroic soldier, and a writer with a unique prose style. After his stormy schooldays, followed by the walk across Europe to Constantinople that begins in A Time of Gifts (1977) and continues through Between the Woods and the Water (1986), he lived and traveled in the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago. His books Mani (1958) and Roumeli (1966) attest to his deep interest in languages and remote places. In the Second World War he joined the Irish Guards, became a liaison officer in Albania, and fought in Greece and Crete. He was awarded the DSO and OBE. He lived partly in Greece—in the house he designed with his wife, Joan, in an olive grove in the Mani—and partly in Worcestershire. He was knighted in 2004 for his services to literature and to British–Greek relations. Jan Morris was born in 1926, is Anglo-Welsh, and lives in Wales. She has written some forty books, including the Pax Britannica trilogy about the British Empire; studies of Wales, Spain, Venice, Oxford, Manhattan, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Trieste; six volumes of collected travel essays; two memoirs; two capricious biographies; and a couple of novels—but she defines her entire oeuvre as “disguised autobiography.” She is an honorary D.Litt. of the University of Wales and a Commander of the British Empire. Her memoir Conundrum is available as a New York Review Book Classic.
 
Published November 14, 2017 by New York Review Books. 513 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Kirkus

Good
on Jul 25 2017

Recounting triumph and tragedy, these letters help round out a portrait of a writer who had long ago reconciled himself to a minor role in literary history—but who deserves a wide readership all the same.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles McGrath on Dec 01 2017

In his introduction Sisman says that the letters are written in a “free-flowing prose that is easier and more entertaining to read” than that of Fermor’s travel books, which is true up to a point. The books are so original they take some getting used to.

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