Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Between the Woods and the Water” as Want to Read:
Between the Woods and the Water
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Between the Woods and the Water

(Trilogy #2)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  2,684 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Continuing the epic foot journey across Europe begun in A Time of Gifts

The journey that Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on in 1933—to cross Europe on foot with an emergency allowance of one pound a day—proved so rich in experiences that when much later he sat down to describe them, they overflowed into more than one volume. Undertaken as the storms of war gathered, and provi
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 3rd 2005 by NYRB Classics (first published January 1st 1986)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Between the Woods and the Water, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Between the Woods and the Water

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,684 ratings  ·  286 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Between the Woods and the Water
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uk, 20-ce, memoir, travel, hungary
This book and its predecessor, A Time of Gifts—and its successor, The Broken Road, which I've yet to read—are about a walking tour the author took at nineteen years of age along the Danube in late 1934 and 1935. In A Time of Gifts he travels on foot from London—he hops a steamer across the channel—to the bridge over the Danube just before Esztergom, Hungary. In the present volume he continues his foot tour over the whole of Hungary, into Romania, Transylvania to the Iron Gates which then separat ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Patrick Leigh Fermor relied on a Rhine barge, the odd lorry lift and his own two legs to carry him through Holland, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Northern Hungary. Now, he’s crossing the Great Hungarian Plain on horseback:

Whenever he got the chance, Malek broke into a canter, and one of these bursts turned into a long twilight gallop...

Back in Budapest, Leigh Fermor had fallen in with a “noctambulistic” smart set (cellar nightclubs, scotch-and-soda, American jazz) whose country-housed
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Paul
Shelves: travel-books, memoirs
A Time of Gifts is stellar, but I struggled with this sequel. Fermor’s descriptions and encounters are just as delightful as he journeys from Hungary to the Balkans, but this second volume gets seriously bogged down with historical and etymological context. It’s awfully wordy. Still, there are some terrific moments when, looking back from older age, Fermor considers how lucky he was to have this adventure:
“Life seemed perfect: kind, uncensorious hosts; dashing, resplendent and beautiful new frie
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dropping toward the watershed, the sun filled the place with evening light and kindled the windows and the western flanks of cupolas and steeples and many belfries, darkening the eastern walls with shadow; and as we gazed, one of them began to strike the hour and another took up the challenge, followed by a third and soon enormous tonnages of sectarian bronze were tolling their ancient rivalries into the dusk.

It is difficult to parse whether this was indeed a pale, less fragrant sibling of the f
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The middle leg of Paddy Leigh Fermor’s walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople finds him dropping into Hungary on Holy Saturday among the pageantry of elaborately costumed peasants, ornate processionals of gilded clergy, scimitared grandees, the raiment of Archbishops, all imbued with incense, gathering dusk, the drone of organs, and canopied by a horizon of migrating storks and the silvery sheen of the Danube sinking and shimmering into twilight. A typical PLF scene; and nothing is wast ...more
carl  theaker
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to carl by: R.
Shelves: history
Take a stroll across central europe in 1934, along the Danube to the Iron Gates, what a nice recollection! With its great descriptions of the countryside, this book would be a great prep for a visit of the Danube area.

If you want to be dedicated, read it with a map by your side and if you want to go for bonus points also a book on the history of Europe.

Along each stop of the walk there are references to the history of each town, influences of the various invasions by Turks and the counter influe
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In this volume Patrick Leigh Fermor continues his account of his walk forty years before from Holland to Constantinople, a walk undertaken when he was less than twenty years old and taking three or four years. When his previous volume, A Time of Gifts, ended, Leigh Fermor had traveled to Budapest and was about to cross Hungary. This book describes his experiences until he arrives at the Iron Gates, the narrows in the Danube River between Rumania and Serbia.

Herein Leigh Fermor continues to demons
This book follows A Time of Gifts, which was superb. In this part of his travels Patrick Leigh Fermor walks on foot, for the most part, from Budapest to the Iron Gates, a gorge on the Danube River beween Romania and Serbia. His end destination is Constantinople. He does get there, in the last book The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos and goes even a bit further to Mount Athos in Greece.

Fermor is nineteen when he makes this trip. He did it in 1934. The world is changed now. The wa
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The travel books of Patrick Leigh Fermor are rare examples of travel writing as literature. I have read four of them to date, including this one, its prequel A Time of Gifts, Mani, and Three Letters from the Andes. This volume is particularly fascinating to me because I am a Hungarian, and this volume covers Patrick's walking tour through Hungary and Romania (most of which was through Hungarian-speaking Transylvania).

A particularly rare feature of this book is a last, lingering look at the old M
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Elizabeth, Kelly
Recommended to Ken by: Patrick Leigh Fermor
Like A TIME OF GIFTS (its predecessor), BETWEEN THE WOODS AND THE WATER has moments where the narrative slows down like turgid water eddying in the bend of a river, usually for architectural details or historical asides, but overall the muscular description of nature rules the day and makes the book sing. In fact, this sequel's setting (Hungary, Romania, Transylvania) lends itself to Fermor's strength even more than the first due to the vast swaths of dark forests splintered by sunlight, mist, s ...more
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite travel book of all time. Patrick Leigh Fermor walked across Europe in the 1930s with just a backpack and this eloquent account of what he found along the way is something I read again and again. His descriptions of Hungary and especially of Transylvania are utterly compelling and you wish you had a time machine to join him then. A fine excerpt:
All through the afternoon the hills had been growing in height and now they rolled into the distance behind a steep and solitary hemisphere cl
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I revelled in "A Time of Gifts", the first volume in a trilogy that recounts Patrick Leigh Fermor's extraordinary journey, which commenced in 1933, when he was 18 years old, and during which he set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. At the end of "A Time of Gifts" we left Paddy in Hungary, and this is where "Between the Woods and the Water" picks up the journey.

In "Between The Woods And The Water", Paddy travels to Budapest and thence across the Great Hungarian Plain, before
I realise that this, along with the others in this trilogy, are considered classic, and are thought by many readers to set the bar for travel writing - but for me, I didn't find it hard to put down.

At the start PLF points out that Books about this part of Europe incline to be chiefly, sometimes exclusively, devoted to politics, and thus abundance lessens my guilt about how small a part they play in this one, where they only appear when they impinge directly on the journey."

For me, it felt like t
If I could, I would rate this book with ten stars!!!!! Patrick Leigh Fermor's book is not just a travelogue, it is a piece of art, a fresco evoking the world, the people and the customs long gone. Patrick Leigh Fermor was lucky indeed to have been the witness to the this civilisation destroyed by the Second World War and its aftermath. His skill, nay the virtuosity of the English language when describing the nature, the people or anything at all-left me speechless. I could literally see the land ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, travel
A fascinating read of a trip back in time to the 1930's in parts of Eastern Europe. The young Mr. Fermor's writing is very descriptive in the detail of his travels through the towns and villages, forests, mountains, weather, and the people he meets. He has a fine eye for architecture, flora and fauna, and an enhanced sense for the cultures he is traveling through. I was fortunate I was reading this on an E-reader, where I had maps and the means to follow his footsteps to see what he was seeing.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to read this book - I started off by listening on Audible, but found it hard to follow and switched to paper. In some ways it's a good book to read slowly, since after all Leigh Fermor's epic trek through Europe on foot as a teenager was carried out over a long period.

His writing style is beautiful and evocative, with many fascinating descriptions of the characters who he met en route. This would be a 5-star read for me, but I found the long digressions about the history o
Chris S.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best (written, at least) travel book I've ever read. If you truly want a worm's eye view of European inter-war society, this is one book that really captures and encapsulates a sense of the fractured, schizophrenic (yet deeply historically aware) nature of what several stratums of society were thinking, felling and experiencing in that great historical pause before the coming of WWII. Highly, highly recommended.
Oct 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I have to believe that Fermor's reputation as one of England's greatest writers must rest on many of his earlier books. Or maybe it's the the recommendation of lesser writers like Morris. This book gets three instead of fewer stars merely because 1) I'd recently passed through some of the same terrain 2) He told me something about my family history I never would have guessed, although I'd spent days in the same city bequeathed to Teutonic Knights, entirely unaware of its history.

I CAN see how hi
Superb. If I thought that A Time of Gifts was a great book this may be a touch more compelling and deserves all superlative thrown at it by the critics. It is hard not to be envious of Patrick Leigh Fermor, a life that was adventurous beyond anything that the average person could comprehend. It is not the famous events that make me envious though, it is the seeing of a world that no longer exists. His travels in Hungary and Romania took in a world that was pounded to non existent pulp by Nazism ...more
The nine years between the publication of this book (1986) and, “A Time Of Gifts”, (1977) is noticeable. With time apart, it is as if PLF had taken a deep breath, begun to relax, and had warmed to his memories. His poetic descriptions, are, as ever, a challenge to surpass:

“Soon after an interval of silence, sheaves of organ-pipes were thundering and fluting their message of risen Divinity. Scores of voices soared from the choir, Alleluiahs were on the wing, the cumulus of incense billowing …”(p
A giftee! **Pets the package** Thanks Judy, Susanna, Bob. xx

Description: The journey that Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on in 1933—to cross Europe on foot with an emergency allowance of one pound a day—proved so rich in experiences that when much later he sat down to describe them, they overflowed into more than one volume. Undertaken as the storms of war gathered, and providing a background for the events that were beginning to unfold in Central Europe, Leigh Fermor’s still-unfinished account of
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mittleuropa, travel
Even better, and more "literary" than Volume 1, this begins in Hungary and ends at the Danube's Iron Gates. The author becomes more candid about his various affairs with high-born and a few peasant women. And his sentences got longer, but not in an annoying way.

Page 28, describing how they dress in Budapest: "Tigers for turnout."

Page 41: "The few clouds in the clear, wide sky were so nearly motionless they might have been anchored to their shadows." Bless him for not adding the unnecessary "that
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
These comments apply to this book and its sequel, "A Time of Gifts."
Puts all other travel books to shame. Patrick Leigh Fermor, a young man at the eve of World War II, traveled across all of Europe by foot, reaching Istanbul after over a year. On the way, he meandered through an ancient world that was soon to be completely destroyed. In this riveting story (put together years after the fact), Fermor gives us a picture of proud peasants and solicitous nobles clinging to a way of life that hadn't
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As beautiful as the first part of the trilogy, "A Time of Gifts". Patrick Leigh Fermor writes exquisitely, and the beauty of his descriptions should be savoured. There is also the occasional reminder of the dreadful future awaiting so many of the people he met along his way in 1934:

"Every part of Europe I had crossed so far was to be torn and shattered by the war; indeed, except for the last stage before the Turkish frontier, all the countries traversed by this journey were fought over a few yea
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
I was thoroughly lost in the Transylvanian forests.

The greatest value of Fermor's travelogues is perhaps as a document of a vanished world: Europe between the wars. Landscapes political and physical have utterly changed, communities remodelled, migrated or erased. These books are like maps from Atlantis.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The audience for Patrick Fermor, Between the Woods and the Water is readers with some mix of being arm chair travelers, lovers of language, little known history and some curiosity about life in Europe just before the Nazi onslaught. Between is book two of his remembrance of things past, rather his Journey Across Europe trilogy and is something less than the marvelous book one. Fermor remains very high on my list of the real world’s most interesting people. I was lucky to have read this as part o ...more
Huw Evans
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aged 18 Patrick Leigh Fermor decided it would be a good idea to walk across Europe to Istanbul. A Time of Gifts is the first volume in the trilogy, which I read many years ago. This is in 1933 as Hitler is coming to power in Germany and the rise of Fascism seems unstoppable.It was a simpler time when letters of introduction had value and he was able to be passed on from family to family to rest and recuperate in between his walking. At one point in the tale he is loaned a horse to ride across th ...more
Richard Newton
I have been meaning to read this book for years, having heard about the life of Patrick Leigh-Fermor. And what a life and what a character that lived that life.

The slight problem is that I had such high expectations of this book, that I was in the end slightly disappointed. It is a wonderful story and it is well written. I don't think it is the masterpiece I was expecting. Perhaps I have made a mistake by reading the second volume of the trilogy before the first, but I doubt that would have made
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I think I liked A Time of Gifts slightly more, this book really shows off Fermor's formidable skill for untangling the thick morass of central european history and linguistic evolution. And while the dscriptions of what he sees seem to take more of a back seat to the history in this volume, they also seem much richer. His accounts of peasant folk in the carpathians, of their ancient traditions and the wild, oft-ignored forests they dwell in are wonderful, almost as rich as Parajanov's Shad ...more
I have read quite a few travel books and found this one to be especially sad. It is perhaps because as i read i knew that war was looming and much of civilization would be erased. I was particularly moved by the descriptions of shepherds, thinking really? shepherds? and the descriptions of the landscape and the villages and the people sharing their music and food, and even seems so far away as if i were reading a novel instead of a real account. It's hard to imagine given our modern ti ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure
  • The Road to Oxiana
  • Arabian Sands
  • The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas
  • Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country
  • The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe
  • Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan
  • Along The Enchanted Way: A Romanian Story
  • The Great Railway Bazaar
  • Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
  • Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
  • In Patagonia
  • Of the Farm
  • Walking the Woods and the Water: In  Patrick Leigh Fermor's footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn
  • Seven Years in Tibet
  • The Roald Dahl Collection
  • The Silent Traveller In Edinburgh
  • The Marsh Arabs
See similar books…
Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor, OBE, DSO was a British author 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".

Other books in the series

Trilogy (3 books)
  • A Time of Gifts
  • The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos

Related Articles

There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
46 likes · 16 comments
“Scattered with poppies, the golden-green waves of the cornfields faded. The red sun seemed to tip one end of a pair of scales below the horizon, and simultaneously to lift an orange moon at the other. Only two days off the full, it rose behind a wood, swiftly losing its flush as it floated up, until the wheat loomed out of the twilight like a metallic and prickly sea.” 8 likes
“Dropping toward the watershed, the sun filled the place with evening light and kindled the windows and the western flanks of cupolas and steeples and many belfries, darkening the eastern walls with shadow; and as we gazed, one of them began to strike the hour and another took up the challenge, followed by a third and soon enormous tonnages of sectarian bronze were tolling their ancient rivalries into the dusk.” 1 likes
More quotes…