Patrick Leigh Fermor is probably best known for the walk he undertook from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in the early 1930’s. He was only 18 at the time of departure and the Europe that he saw and described was still as it had been for decades, as well as being of the cusp of dramatic change with the rise of the far right in Germany and other countries. He had a knack for languages and his infectious enthusiasm meant he could mix with the lowest peasant to the highest landowner all across Europe. He was active during the Second World War mostly in Crete and was the instigator behind a dramatic abduction of a German general. After the war, he moved to his beloved Greece settling in the Peloponnese region.
This book is a lovely collection of articles grouped into various sections, travels, Greece, people books and the wonderfully titled flotsam. Some are drawn from his earlier books and others are articles that have appeared in various magazines and newspapers. The subjects are diverse, varying from bicycle polo to Gluttony, Bryon to Andalucía and are written in his indomitable style. Whilst I have read a number of the pieces before, there are several that I haven’t. Most of the articles are really good, not all of them are. It would be a good introduction to one of my favourite writers for those that are interested.