Customer Reviews for

A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2014

    This book felt like traveling in time to a place that no longer

    This book felt like traveling in time to a place that no longer exists. Though a lot of Fermor's tangents about Classic (and some European) literature and history went over my head—I am not as erudite as he was then, or had since become—I really enjoyed his rich, sensual descriptions of cities, towns, villages, fields, pubs and insides of people's houses, glimpses of other lives. Also, loved his descriptions of the art he encounters on his way. He seems to miss no detail, no smell, no association. Somehow, he was able to convey "a feel" of the place, which, of course, is a highly subjective thing. But I bought into his particular feel.

    The book is a little uneven and at times was a bit too slow and bogged down with too much historical detail. In fact, instead of another paragraph on the Hapsburgs, I'd rather hear even more about how the presence of the Nazis is changing people's daily lives, the economic situation. He, after all, has the benefit of the hindsight. Some places that Fermor visits blend into one (just like Fermor himself confesses happens in his memory). I suppose it's only natural. Overall, Fermor is a smart, ecstatic and funny companion and guide, and I enjoyed this journey. I would have enjoyed it even more if I was more versed in history of the region, or maybe Fermor could have explained it better (like Ian Frazier does in Travels in Siberia).

    I could compare this book to W.G. Sebald's "walking books": The Emigrants, Vertigo, The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz. Only the last one has what one could call a destination, an articulated goal of the journey. Sebald's books, as opposed for Fermor's, have a much slower pace and are much more "philosophical." Sebald invests more time and detail into characters, whereas Fermor portrays them more like people seen standing on a platform as he rushes by on a train. Figuratively speaking, of course. He actually tried to avoid transportation as much as possible and just walk. This is in line with his conceit.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    One of the 20th century's great travel writers

    While not as well known as Jan Morris (a great choice to introduce the volume), Fermor is an equally engaging writer on a par with Colin Thubron. This first volume tells the story of his journey across Europe beautifully evoking the spirit of many places and the encounters with individuals that are the human faces of his journey. Exquisite prose enhanced, not diminished, by an masterful vocabulary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2002

    human view of world events

    In this book and its sequel the youthful author experiences central Europe at a critical time. The warmth and friendliness of his personality combine with the ready intelligence and his openness to experience, to give a unique preview of events that would shake the world. The anchoring in one person's view gives the events more "reality" than many presentations that take a more pretentious look at them. The author also writes extremely well, which is a decided plus.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2000

    a good book

    I think this is a good book because it is about a teen just like me on a long journey across parts of Europe in 1933. I think it is ne of the beter books I have read in the past year.

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    Posted February 5, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2011

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