BETWEEN THE WOODS AND THE WATER by Patrick Leigh Fermor

BETWEEN THE WOODS AND THE WATER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An adventurous memoir, written 53 years after the fact by a British traveler in the grand tradition. Relying on a journal and a fine memory, Fermor manages to recreate his feelings as a 19-year-old in spare prose that is as impressive for what it omits as for what it includes about his trans-European journey. The areas he describes are still off the tourist's beaten track. Fermor evokes the days of travel books as unique adventures of historic interest. In this sense, his work belongs to an older line of travel literature such as Livingstone's Last Voyages in Africa. Would that more travelers had the restraint to wait over a half century to retell their favorite tales of voyage. Moreover, they should retain Fermor's clear eye, unmisted with nostalgia for his lost youth. The active teen-aged Fermor seems very much the same person as the septuagenarian narrator. There is about his log a remarkable air of keen interest in new discoveries, an appetite for new languages, sights, and experiences. Details of the journey are presented with vigor and quiet charm, such as Fermor's challenging a monk in pig-Latin to a game of skittles, or a Transylvanian wedding dance to a record of ""Dinah"" drowned out by new Hungarian lyrics. An amusing and touching encounter with Hungarian Jews (who call his travels for fun ""goyim naches"") proves that the world Fermor describes is dead and gone. The eager reader is happy to see the note ""to be concluded"" at the end, as it promises another intriguing volume of unique memoirs. In sum, an unusual and charming wander down unfamiliar byways.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking