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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. Decades later, Leigh Fermor told the story of that life-changing journey in A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, works now celebrated as among the most vivid, absorbing, and beautifully written travel books of all time.
The Broken Road is the account of the final leg of his journey, catching up with Paddy in the fall of 1934, following him through Bulgaria and Romania and ending in Greece. Days and nights on the road, spectacular landscapes and uncanny cities, friendships lost and found, leading the high life in Bucharest or camping out with fishermen and shepherds—such incidents and escapades are described with all the linguistic bravura and astonishing learning that Leigh Fermor is famous for, but also with a melancholy awareness of the passage of time. Throughout it we can hear the still-ringing voice of an irrepressible young man embarking on a life of adventure.
“An unforgettable book, full of strange encounters with a prewar Balkan cast of counts, prostitutes, peasants, priests and castrati. The greatest pleasure of all, as usual, is Leigh Fermor’s own infectious, Rabelaisian hunger for knowledge of almost every kind. His memory seems eidetic; his eyes miss nothing. He seems to carry within himself a whole troupe of sharp-eyed geographers, art historians, ethnologists and multilingual poets.” —Robert F. Worth, The New York Times Book Review
“Fermor’s gift of observation transcends time, fusing the classical with the modern in prose of voluminous richness.” —Robert D. Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal
“When you put down The Broken Road you feel what [Leigh Fermor] himself felt on departing from Mount Athos…‘a great deal of regret.’” —Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Review of Books
"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 about the usual run of travel books....The Broken Road is better than any gleaming capstone: while giving us a more than satisfactory idea of Leigh Fermor's Balkan adventures, 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 his 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
“The now-complete trilogy documenting his journey is essential curriculum for any traveler….Fermor’s youthful forays across Bulgaria and Romania to the coast of the Black Sea make the reader wish all of life were one long journey of slow mornings on Turkish divans, welcome platters of raki and Turkish delight, crackling firelight and long conversations in various languages…Even those who have never seen the Danube will be struck with nostalgia—not for the author’s memories, but for their own, encapsulated in that same crystal mien of idealized youth…” —Longitude
"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