The acclaimed travel writer's youthful journey - as an 18-year-old - across 1930s Europe by foot began in A Time of Gifts, which covered the author's exacting journey from the Lowlands as far as Hungary. Picking up from the very spot on a bridge across the Danube where his readers last saw him, we travel on with him across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania.
The trip was an exploration of a continent which was already showing signs of the holocaust which was to come. Although frequently praised for his lyrical writing, Fermor's account also provides a coherent understanding of the dramatic events then unfolding in Middle Europe. But the delight remains in travelling with him in his picaresque journey past remote castles, mountain villages, monasteries and towering ranges.
Half a century after the journey, a renowned British travel writer recaptures a five-month period in 1934 when, on a walking trip to Istanbul, he traversed 600 miles through Hungary and Transylvania, arriving finally at a point on the Danube where the Carpathians meet the Balkans. Sleeping at times in the open but often in the stately homes of families to whom he had letters of introduction, 19-year-old Fermor experienced regions untouched by the industrial revolution, where the rhythm of life had remained many decades behind the pace of the West. His "blessed and happy'' stays in these quiet lands were as leisurely as they are in English and Russian novels of the 19th century. A worthy sequel to his 1977 book A Time of Gifts.