Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN:
Pages: 496
Publication Date: November 14, 2017

Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Life in Letters

by Patrick Leigh Fermor, selected and edited by Adam Sisman

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The letters in this volume span seventy years, from February 1940 to January 2010. The first was written ten days before Patrick Leigh Fermor’s twenty-fifth birthday, when he was an officer cadet, hoping for a commission in the Irish Guards. He had hurried back to England from Romania in September 1939, expecting to die within weeks of being sent into action, like his friend who was a junior officer in the First World War. The last two were written on the same day, when Paddy (as he called himself, and almost everyone else called him) was ninety-four, a widower, very deaf, and suffering from tunnel vision, which made it hard for him to read even his own handwriting. His voice was already hoarse from the throat cancer that would kill him seventeen months later. But these last letters, like the first and most of the others printed here, exude a zest that was characteristic. From first to last, Paddy’s letters radiate warmth and gaiety. Often they are decorated with witty illustrations and enhanced by comic verse. Sometimes they contain riddles and cringe-making puns.

Praise

Zestful, vivid, and buoyant with polymathic learning, Leigh Fermor’s letters reveal themselves perfect for anthology. There are descriptions and anecdotes equal to anything in his writing, spurred by memorable friendships, suffused with affection and occasional distress: all finely edited by Adam Sisman.
—Colin Thubron

Hugely entertaining, funny and occasionally moving...edited meticulously and brilliantly.
The Observer

Zest, verbal finesse, almost pristine receptivity and a richly informed cultural and historical consciousness make these letters, even when the erosions of time and illness shadow them, irresistibly exhilarating.
The Sunday Times

Adam Sisman is a model editor.... Reading these letters is like gobbling down a tray of exotically filled chocolates, with no horrible orange creams to put you off.
—Harry Mount, Literary Review

Adam Sisman’s selection of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s letters is entirely admirable . . . an unmissable feast.
Daily Telegraph

Here is a veritable feast for fans of Paddy Leigh Fermor . . . Sisman has done a tremendous job selecting and editing this treasure-trove of letters.
—Justin Marozzi, The Spectator

Superb . . . Adam Sisman has done an excellent job of selecting and editing these letters, almost any one of which would have been a joy to receive.
Times Literary Supplement

This is one of those books that make you feel a little bereft when you finish it.
Catholic Herald

To read these letters and their superb footnotes is to walk with some of the great ghosts of twentieth-century literature.
Oldie

Oh joy! The wit, the humour, and the dazzling intelligence make this, for me, the most unputdownable book of the year.
Country Life