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Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure

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Artemis Cooper's interest in Patrick Leigh Fermor dates from her teenage years; he was a friend of her grandmother, and she was drawn to his charm and huge personality. Her biography of him did a great job at conveying this.


I had always assumed that Paddy (as she calls him throughout the book) was from that sort of aristocratic stock which allows you to spend your life gadding around Europe and writing about it. But, in fact, he came from a fairly ordinary middle class family and spent much of his life in near-penury. He was expelled from school and struggled to find his way. But he did have a big personality and an ability to quickly make friends. 

She covers his walk across Europe as a teenager, which he wrote about A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water; his time in the Intelligence Corps, when he and a colleague masterminded the kidnap of the German General who was in charge in Crete; and his later career as a writer, which wasn't nearly as successful as he needed it to be, at least in the early stages.

The book covered a lot of aspects of 20th C history about which I knew little and which I found fascinating, but, most of all, it was Paddy who was fascinating. I must read his own books now.

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