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The Traveller's Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  92 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In the late 1940s Patrick Leigh Fermor, now widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest travel writers, set out to explore the then relatively little-visited islands of the Caribbean. Rather than a comprehensive political or historical study of the region, The Traveller’s Tree, Leigh Fermor’s first book, gives us his own vivid, idiosyncratic impressions of G ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 1950)
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Community Reviews

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Andy
The idea of "travel writing" is, like the term "war poetry", a conceit. A useful conceit, to be sure, but a conceit nonetheless. So to call Paddy Leigh Fermor - man of action, scholar, lover, wit, soldier - a travel writer has the baleful effect of reducing the shimmering depth and breadth of his work to a shorthand. Like his other books, The Traveller's Tree, which recounts his 1949 journey around the Caribbean islands, made with Joan Eyres-Monsell (who would become his wife in 1968) and the Gr ...more
Julie
This was very interesting, learned a lot about the Caribbean and the history of some of the islands. Enjoyed it but it was not a quick read for me.
Luke
I began reading this travellers' survey of the Caribbean islands because it was mentioned in Live and Let Die as required reading for James Bond on voodoo.

The voodoo-covering chapters on Haiti are probably the most narrative-driven of the whole selection, but they're not as serious as coverage by someone like Alfred Metraux or Maya Deren. That's OK, though, as Fermor's now much-dated quaintness adds a touch of old-world observation to the proceedings that's not entirely unpleasant.

This book is
...more
John
Good overview of the author's travels in the region just after World War II - long enough ago that the references seem historical, rather than dated. Although he went to Cuba, Fermor says it wasn't included due to not being able to communicate with natives for the language barrier; he does mention Puerto Rico briefly. Haiti is covered in great detail as the penultimate location; the rather drawn out discussion of voudou pretty much ended my interest in the book, so the reasonably brief final cha ...more
Shelley Buck
I'm delighted to see this classic being republished. Whether sampling sour-sop fruit in the market, attending unusual religious ceremonies, visiting the lepers of Chacachacare, or describing the breeze-catching windows of Ian Fleming's house overlooking the sea in Jamaica, Fermor demonstrates a remarkable gift for getting into the cultures he visits, and taking us--the readers--along with him. Much of what he records has probably altered or vanished, but we can still visit these islands' recent ...more
Andrew
Brilliant. The last of the old world travelers, capturing the foment between a sumptuously violent past and precarious future of cultural free-for all. Not for the impatient of snobbish, polyglot vocabulary. But then again, he's always right in the money, and if there's the right word for something, why not use it?
Chris
A personal traveler's diary in the late 1940s through the smaller Caribbean islands of Guadelope, Martinique, Dominica, Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Martin & St. Thomas, and then the larger islands of Haiti, Jamaica and finally a brief time spent in Cuba.

The author is quite lyrical and his descriptions are vivid and lively. As he traveled through these various islands with their quite different societies, he made many friends and acqua
...more
Heather Roberts
so thrilled to hear his voice in yet another part of the world! more to come...

oh my, it's beautiful. and so, so very fun.

patrick delivers the joys of armchair travelling very well yet again.

love this book. especially cuddled up in the middle of winter. what a great escape! it was always as if you were with him. always his words made you feel the warmth of sun on your body, the tingly smell of salt from sea air in your nose, the cool damp excitement of wandering through rain forested mountain w
...more
R. Ellis
Fermor's first book. I wasn't expecting the same enjoyment that I got from his other books, but this really surprised me.

Here is the intense historical focus that would be the hallmark of his future books, but this time aimed at the Carribean islands. Beginning with Arawaks and Caribs, then on through the invasion of the new world by Spain, the follow up invasions by England, France, the Dutch, and even the Danes! And of course, following all of these are the American invasions, of which we hea
...more
Frank
One of his best books! A remarkable history of the Caribbean Island combined with a first hand description of the land, the people and the architecture.
Ruth
I absolutely loved A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. These were youthful journeys that he wrote about many years later. The Traveller's Tree is his first book, and it lacks the joy and spirit of the books I mentioned. It reads a lot like the standard travelogue. I could care less about the Caribbean islands; I just thought I would get a kick out of Leigh-Fermor's attitude toward life. Unfortunately that doesn't show up much in this book. Less than halfway through I started ski ...more
Douglas Dalrymple
3.5 stars, if it were possible. Written in the later forties, this is not at all Fermor's best work, but it's still wonderful, full of weird observations, with hints here and there of the wizardish prose he manages in later books.
Christopher
I'm not really in the mood for Patrick at the moment. I could really do with Maugham or Waugh, but The Traveller's Tree will have to do on a long multi-stop quicky planning trip to Phuket this week.
John
Part travelogue and part ethnographic study, which climaxes in a weekslong, torch-lighted trance of voodoo drums and dancing.
LH
Mar 02, 2012 LH marked it as to-read
To read. . . read by James Bond in Live and Let Die.
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Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor DSO OBE was a British author, scholar and soldier, who played a prominent role behind the lines in the Battle of Crete during World War II. He was widely regarded as "Britain's greatest living travel writer".

At the age of 18, Leigh Fermor decided to walk the length of Europe, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. He set off on 8 December 1933, after Hitler ha
...more
More about Patrick Leigh Fermor...
A Time of Gifts Between the Woods and the Water A Time to Keep Silence Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece

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