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Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  625 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was a war hero whose exploits in Crete are legendary, and above all he is widely acclaimed as the greatest travel writer of our times, notably for his books about his walk across pre-war Europe, 'A Time of Gifts' and 'Between the Woods and the Water'; he was a self-educated polymath, a lover of Greece and the best company in the world.

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published October 11th 2012 by John Murray (first published September 29th 2011)
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Petra X
Patrick, or Paddy (as he was always called) really lived his life exactly as he wanted to. Nothing stopped him, not age, not war, not lack of money. He had adventures, captured a German officer, killed a Greek man by not knowing his gun was loaded, had an affair with a Balkan princess and smoked, drank and womanised all to excess. Whatever Paddy wanted to do, Paddy did. And then he wrote about it in 21 books earning him the title of, "Britain's greatest living travel writer". I don't know about ...more
Patrick Leigh Fermor seems to have led a charmed life. He died in 2011 at the age of 96, after living an unorthodox life on his own terms. Leigh Fermor was a war hero, serving as an intelligence officer on Crete and operating throughout Greece during World War II. He now is best known as a travel writer -- indeed, his A Time of Gifts is one of my favorite books of all time. In this affectionate biography, Artemis Cooper uses letters and interviews, publications and journal entries, to describe L ...more
Nov 30, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was widely regarded during his lifetime as Britain’s greatest living travel writer. Artemis Cooper’s biography of him is beautifully written and scrupulously documented. This work will be most enjoyed and appreciated by those readers who are familiar with “Paddy” and who have read some of his works. The first two chapters detail his childhood until he takes off on his epic walk across Europe at age 19 in 1933. His fragmented family life is described, as are his ...more
Σωτήρης  Αδαμαρέτσος
Η βιογραφία ενός ανθρώπου που διεσχισε τον 20ο αιώνα, αφήνοντας πίσω του παμπολλες ιστορίες, υπέροχες αφηγησεις, γλέντια και πάρτι με όλο το κόσμο, από έναν πύργο στην Ιρλανδία ως μια ταβέρνα στην Αθήνα, αντιστασιακη δράση στην Κρήτη της Κατοχής (ο απαγωγεας του Κραιπε), όμορφα βιβλία και περιηγήσεις, και πολλές πολλές πολλές γυναίκες! Μια γεμάτη ζωή που μοιραζονταν ανάμεσα στην αγαπημένη του Ελλάδα και σε όλο τον υπόλοιπο κόσμο, που γύρισε παντού από τις Ανδεις ως τον Νεπαλ και την Ινδία και ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC radio listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
For PLF, when aged about six, it was a book of stories on the legendary Robin Hood, together with his mother’s noted talent to ‘make things fun or memorable’, which unlocked the vast delights of the world of reading to him (p.13). His mother clearly had an eye for the unusual when she translated ’It’s a Long Way To Tipperary’ into Hindustani. Her young son, unsurprisingly, was infected with the same spirited playful zest for language. He translated ‘Widdecombe Fair’ and ‘D’ye ken John Peel’ into ...more
Jim Coughenour
Jan 24, 2013 Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing
I'd never heard of Patrick Leigh Fermor before I picked up the NYRB edition of A Time of Gifts at the end of 2005 – and I was bedazzled. I can't better Artemis Cooper's description of the book:
eleven chapters of writing that had been built up, layer upon layer, over the years… so folded over one another, so detailed in some passages and so deliberately blurred in others, uproariously funny one minute and burrowing into the bowels of historical conjecture the next, that the book reads like a jour
Alastair Kerr
Jun 03, 2013 Alastair Kerr rated it liked it
A book that in parts I enjoyed and in parts found tedious. The author's enthusiasm for the subject is clear and he is treated very sympathetically throughout. For big fans of his writing and those who knew him this book is wonderful. As a relative stranger to his work there were sections I found bewildering. There is an assumption that the reader already has some knowledge of the subject.

The book leaps in places and crawls in others. Pages are spent on a single evening in a tavern and a similar
Nov 02, 2013 Geoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I met and briefly talked with Artemis Cooper tonight after her reading for this book. Classy lady, attractive, eloquent. Got her to sign my book and told her Paddy is a personal hero. A good evening all around.
Duane Dunkerson
Remembering Patrick Leigh Fermor, as done by Pearson and Macfarlane (Patrick Leigh Fermor:An Adventure by Artemis Cooper)

Remembering Patrick Leigh Fermor benefits from an appreciation in The Guardian online, or it is more like a white-hot tribute to Fermor by Allison Pearson in meeting with Artemis Cooper, author of a very recent biography of Fermor. Also from The Guardian online, the same biography is recommended by Robert Macfarlane. Fermor was their hero, whose touchstone was WWII and Fermor
May 28, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2013
Until I heard this book on Radio 4's Book of the Week, their non fiction book slot, I had never heard of Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Cooper has written a comprehensive and sensitive biography about Fermor. He was a very talented writer, most famous for a travel books, and in particular for one on a walk across Europe in-between the wars. He wrote about other countries, and numerous articles. He was a very complex character, troubled in lots of ways, and carefree in others. The people he met either jell
Oct 05, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-read
The biography hardly rises to the level of literature. The prose is lacking in style and overstuffed with the names of bit players and walk-ons in the life of a complex and interesting writer. Nevertheless, Artemis Cooper has rendered a valuable service to those who love the prose of Fermor by creating a timeline of his literary output. The book is more homage to a friend than objective assessment of the life and writings of a creative and unique writer. I read this as background for his ...more
Dec 13, 2013 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Although I have read and liked Patrick Leigh Fermor's writing for many years, I was disappointed in this biography. There was way too much information about what seemed like every minute of his long life. "Paddy" was a wonderful writer, obviously enjoyed his fun and had a fair amount of it, quite a man with the ladies, knew how to get along with and get treated generously by rich friends - but I didn't need to know quite so many details. Having read his writing about experiences during the War ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Biography by Artemis Cooper charting the extraordinary life story of the celebrated travel writer and war hero. Read by Samuel West.
oh a wonderful bio for us fermor lovers. see kris's super review for a full explanation

so we learn the scoop of why paddy got kicked out of school and started his journey on foot to istambul in 1930, why he only spent a few days in the city that was his seemingly raison, then lived with a princess in Moldavia (sp?) (hers is such a tragic story, after the nazis got done mauling her, the communists took over and took every thing from her family, not saying
May 27, 2013 Clare rated it it was amazing
This is the type of book that I had hoped Hemingways Boats was going to be(and most certainly wasn't:see my review)I had never heard of Paddy until I picked up this book.

The author captures a unique spirit here. The book follows Paddys life chronologically from his fostering on a farm to his troubled school days, to his walk across Europe and his time in pre-war Roumania. Its covers his war times escapades including the madcap kidnapping of a German general on Crete and their bonding(they were
Jan 07, 2014 Toto rated it liked it
I wish I never read this book. Not beause it's badly written; nor is it dull. Just the opposite. Ms. Cooper has a fetching style and she clearly knows her subject. It is a good read.

My problem is, the more I read about "Paddy" the less I liked him. I had been quite taken by his trilogy, especially the first one, "Time of Gifts." His voice was uniquely humble, his mind a treasure chest of thoughtful observations, humorous self deprecations, and his pen, a light feather on the page. Now I find tha
David Stuart Ryan
Aug 30, 2013 David Stuart Ryan rated it it was amazing

I rather envy any reader who has not yet embarked upon the glories of Patrick Leigh Fermor's two books about his pre-war travels in Europe - 'A Time of Gifts' and 'Between the Woods and the Water'.

Artemis Cooper has done a great job in helping to explain why 'Paddy' was such a gripping and informative writer, he not only wrote about life, he actually lived it. To the utmost.

The immensely long gestation time for his books about his youthful travels is at least partly explained by his distractions
David Stone
Apr 06, 2015 David Stone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superb biography of a man who decided to take a walk when he was a teenager and then managed to live off the adventure for the rest of his life. And when he was posted to Greece during World War II as a result of the languages he learned on his walk, he kidnapped a German general and became the most celebrated Englishman in Greece since Lord Byron. Cooper nicely maps Paddy's walk across Europe, as well as his struggles to write about it decades afterwards. If anything, she undersells ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Nigel rated it liked it
I loved the Patrick Leigh Fermor's books I've read so far and this biography appealed to me. For the most part I found it an enjoyable insight into a quite remarkable life. He really comes over as a man out of his time - his approach to life would have been a great one even if he had been born in almost any previous century. He was a real explorer, exceptionally well read with enormous knowledge of areas that interested him. His early life was a little difficult however once he started exploring ...more
May 04, 2015 lixy rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Cooper does a great job condensing The Walk to Constantinople into 3-4 chapters, which saves you slogging through his wordy, overly-lyrical books. Don't get me wrong, I love--the idea and the romance of--the man, and the Mani (probably his best book) but his writing is often too much of a good thing, which it seems he was like in person, as well. This is a fascinating, loving, yet not uncritical biography of a traveler as well as his unconventional marriage and relationships.
PLF's mo
An interesting read and a well written biography. Certainly worth the time of any one who admires the written words of Patrick Leigh Fermor. A book in two halves for me though. The excitement of the youthful walk and the Cretan WW2 adventures was captivating. The final half that consisted of upper middle class bludgeing ( a fine Australian word to describe a life of "Using" others) was a little too overbearing for my tastes. Is Leigh Fermor one of the best writers I have ever read? Absolutely. ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Adrian added it
They don't make 'em like Paddy anymore. Writer, traveller and polymath. He spoke five languages fluently including Greek and Rumanian and became, for all intents and purposes, Greek, living more than half of his life in Greece. Cooper covers all possible ground here giving the flavour of his walk across Europe, his enormous curiosity, wealth of knowledge on all manner of things and enormous circle of friends. Intrigued to find out that his great trek which led to the books 'A Time of Gifts' and ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Ed rated it liked it
I so wanted to like this book. I love the subject of this bio and his books on this walk from Belgium to Istanbul in 1933-4. And I did like all the background information about his life. But ultimately I found this book very pedestrian. The author failed to really get inside the subjects mind to see what drove him. Maybe he was all hail fellow well met traveler, but I sense that he was a depressive and that there is just not enough depth to this portrait. A real pity. Not badly written but ...more
Aug 21, 2015 Fredonia7 rated it it was amazing
For those of you who have read Patrick Leigh Fermor's account of his walk across Europe in 1932 when he was 18 years old this is a wonderful biography of the author. Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was a war hero whose exploits in Crete are legendary, and above all he is widely acclaimed as the greatest travel writer of our times, notably for his books about his walk across pre-war Europe, 'A Time of Gifts' and 'Between the Woods and the Water'; he was a self-educated polymath, a lover of ...more
Jonathan Gill
Feb 09, 2016 Jonathan Gill rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of all of Padddy Leigh-Fermors books so I was looking forward to the official biograpy and was not disappointed. Traditionally format of family background, school days, heroic exploits during the war as a SOE officer in Crete followed by his writing career. Recomended to all fans of his books but will also appeal to history buffs and and anyone interested in WW2 and life as an undercover officer.
L. Peat
Author's esteemed mother was a great friend of PLF so the perspective is close and the archival details carefully reported.
PLF lived with gusto and like others who go with the flow and embrace the unknown, his life may have been rockier and messier than this (mostly) white bread biography allows.
Or maybe not; maybe this biography is spot on.
Ian Callaway
Dec 30, 2012 Ian Callaway rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read. An absolute must. As indeed are the works of the great man himself. If you get the chance to see Artemis Cooper talk on the subject then do not pass up on that opportunity. Fabulous PLF Wordpress archive online too, which a perfect accompaniment to the books themselves.
Henning Koch
Jan 19, 2013 Henning Koch rated it really liked it
I am biased, I love Patrick Leigh Fermor. In spite of his high reputation in the UK I am not sure he is so well known abroad. Pity, he's worth it. He's one of the great scholar travelers.

Finished reading ...Patrick Leigh Fermor: an Adventure / Artemis Cooper ...02 Nov.2016
ISBN: 9780719565496

Another good read, as always, from Artemis Cooper. Her subject however …..

Patrick Leigh Fermor walked from London to Constantinople in his youth and took the rest of his life to write about it. It sounds like he was the bane of his publisher's life. Apparently Paddy's writing is brilliant (I did enjoy In Tearing Haste, his correspondence with Debo Devonshire) but this book has put me off my i
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The Patrick Leigh...: Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper 3 6 Sep 22, 2014 01:49PM  
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She is the only daughter of the second Viscount Norwich and his first wife, Anne (née Clifford), and a granddaughter of Lady Diana Cooper. She has a brother, the Hon. Jason Charles Duff Bede Cooper, and a half-sister, Allegra Huston, the only child of Lord Norwich and Enrica Soma Huston, the estranged wife of American film director John Huston. She attended the French Lycee, the Convent of the ...more
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