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This is a most well researched biography of a fascinating man and writer who lived and wrote in many parts of the world. Many years were spent in Greece where PLF lived mainly in the Mani region of the Peloponnese. Hiking across much of Europe in the early thirties, on a shoe-string budget, bunking with aristocrats and serfs is a story well covered that should give incentives to the young of today. The detailed descriptions of his life in the SOE in Cairo and in Crete is of great interest to servicemen and anyone connected to the WW2 resistance movement in Crete. The reality of the capture on General Kreipe becomes more clear than it was in the book and film, 'Ill Met by Moonlight' that featured Dirk Bogarde as PLF. A book that deserves to be reread many times.
I found this book to be a relentless accumulation of gossip about PLF and his rich and famous friends. Lots of juicy gossip. Little analysis, little attempt to understand a complex and ultimately sad man. No attempt to present his normal daily life or his relationships with the non-rich and famous. A very long discussion of the much-discussed German-general-kidnapping.
Artemis Cooper has known PLF all her life, her husband made much use of his information in a fine history of the Cretan war. Her family has known Fermor. She has had unparalleled access to information which she has simply used, at best, for titillation.
I am a long-time admirer of PLF. He was a man of courage, complex, highly flawed, highly gifted. He deserves much better.
Cooper wrote an "official" biography. Perhaps a better, more intelligent writer can write a real biography.
What a pity it is that the world doesn't have people like Patrick Leigh Fermor anymore. Too many frontiers are closed to adventurous people like him who shrived to immerse himself in another culture; was always inquisitive about different cultures and languages and wrote so capturingly about them. Artemis Cooper has drawn his character with finesse and this is an inspirational book for those who love reading about exceptional people.
As a great fan of "A Time of Gifts" and "Between the Woods and the Water," I have been holding my breath waiting for the third volume in the series to appear. This biography allows me to release my breath in an almost-satisfied sigh of complicity and understanding. These two almost-perfect travel books will not be rounded off with a third volume that describes the last part of Patrick Liegh Fermor's youthful journey, from Rumania to Constantinople. Knowing now that the third book will not appear, and knowing more about the author's charmed life, I can go back to savoring and re-reading the two books mentioned above for a third time.
I was a little disappointed with this biography. I felt it was too long since, although PLF had an interesting life there is not very much happening in the way of 'action' after his stunt of kidnapping a general on Crete during the last year of World War II to warrant 466 pages. The author fills a lot of space with for instance the almost complete story of this kidnapping in 'Ill met by Moonlight' which is a book by itself and has no place in this biography. She also writes endless pages listing all the people PLF knew, which amounts to a list of 'who is who' in English society.This may be interesting for English people but has not much interest for anyone else.
If I compare this biography with say the one on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson the quality of writing is miles apart. That one I could not put down whereas the one on PLF made me skip quite a few pages because they were so boring.
Had the writer limited herself on PLF's life as such with the things he actually did and experienced the book most likely could have been around the 250 to 300 pages mark and would make much more riveting reading. But the endless mentioning of his constant travels here and there with any amount of glitterati friends and not much meaning other than giving the impression of very restless people who have nothing better to do become tedious. Only PLF's own travels such as the ones to the monasteries of the Athos etc. and the one as a young man before WW II are interesting. But they are already books in their own right .
A pity, because this could have been a great book about a very unusual and interesting man.
I loved Patrick Leigh Fermore's A Gift of Time and Between the Water and the Woods. I didn't know much about the author and only realized later that he wrote these books many years after his walk.
I wanted to find out more about him so I also read In Tearing Haste which gave me some inkling about PLF. So I was waiting for Diana Cooper's book with great anticipation. And I was greatly disappointed on two counts. One was not her fault but the other surely was.
To find out that someone whose writing one admires greatly has not just clay feet but is clay up to his knees at least, was painful. PLF was a charming,talented and gifted, con artist, moocher, tom cat etc. How sad that someone with such great gifts and potential doesn't really live up to it.
So now we come to the part that is the fault of the biographer. This could and should have been a book which delved into what made PLF tick. Why did he waste so much of his time. Why was he able to mooch off his future wife and spend the money on ladies of the night. Why was she ok with that. It didn't seem to bother him at all that he gave some of his lovers venereal diseases etc. etc.
None of these and other important questions are answered. Instead we are given a strung together list of important people he knew and interacted with, the many trips he took and so on. And all this in pretty pedestrian prose. I am very disappointed. I was looking forward to the Broken Road the last of the triology but now I am hesitant not knowing if Ms. Cooper did it justice.