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In the winter of 1933, eighteen-year-old Patrick (“Paddy”) Leigh Fermor set out on a walk across Europe, starting in Holland and ending in Constantinople, a trip that took him almost a year. Decades later, Leigh Fermor told the story of that life-changing journey in A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, two books now celebrated as among the most vivid, absorbing, and beautifully written travel books of all time.
The Broken Road is the long-awaited account of the final leg of his youthful adventure that Leigh Fermor promised but was unable to finish before his death in 2011. Assembled from Leigh Fermor’s manuscripts by his prizewinning biographer Artemis Cooper and the travel writer Colin Thubron, this is perhaps the most personal of all Leigh Fermor’s books, catching up with young Paddy in the fall of 1934 and following him through Bulgaria and Romania to the coast of the Black Sea. The book ends, perfectly, with Paddy’s arrival in Greece, the country he would fall in love with and fight for.
“By any standards, this is a major work. It confirms that Leigh Fermor was, along with Robert Byron, the greatest travel writer of his generation, and this final volume assures the place of the trilogy as one of the masterpieces of the genre, indeed one of the masterworks of postwar English non-fiction.”—William Dalrymple, The Guardian
“The descriptions of waking in unfamiliar places are so seductive that even the most home-hugging reader will long to wake somewhere unknown. And some of the evocations of landscapes and views will live long in the memory.” —Anthony Sattin, The Observer
“In the end, it’s his moments of joy, his revelling in a young man’s moments of epiphany, which stay in the mind.” —Neal Ascherson, London Review of Books
“The Broken Road is superb, towering above the usual run of travel books. . . . The Broken Road is better than any gleaming capstone, it also, in its raggedness, accentuates the seamless magic of the books that came before, and it wraps the whole enterprise in a pathos that humanizes the author’s superhuman gifts.” —Ben Downing, The Times Literary Supplement
“In a lamplit frenzy of mystic dance and song, among Homeric fisherfolk and swains, young Paddy discovers the underground ecstasies of rebetika in all its ‘quintessence of fatalism.’ Glimpsed from the future, he sets a course for the Greece that would keep his prose dancing ever after.” —The Independent
“A fitting epilogue to 20th-century travel-writing and essential reading for devotees of Sir Patrick’s other works.” —The Economist
“How fitting, for a man so young at heart, with such a boundless appetite for life, that his last published words should be those of a wide-eyed 20-year-old, embarking on what will be a lifelong love affair with Greece. His editors, Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper, have put this book to bed with skill and sensitivity. Friends and fans, acolytes, devotees and disciples can all rest easy. It was worth the wait.” —Justin Marozzi, The Spectator
“The youthful joy shines through, and the deep cultural learning that was superimposed in later years is there in sufficient quantity to lend wonder to this fragmented tale....Anybody who loved its two preceding volumes will fall upon it hungrily. Anybody who has not read the two preceding volumes should do so without delay.” —The Scotsman