Jeremy Lewis

An Affair to Misremember

Ever since the first volume appeared in 1977, people have been divided over Patrick Leigh Fermor’s trilogy in which he describes how, as a very young man, he trudged from Rotterdam to Istanbul. His admirers (of whom I am one) delighted in his ornate prose and his magical evocations of ochre-coloured country houses in Mitteleuropa; his detractors claimed it was absurd and impossible for a man in his sixties and seventies to recall in such minute detail the events of half a century before and that the whole thing was, in effect, a charade. It took a cool-headed biographer to sort things out. Artemis Cooper was a close friend of Leigh Fermor, but she had no qualms about showing how her hero – like so many other writers of memoirs and travel books – had misremembered, embellished, conflated and invented in order to achieve his ends.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,
    • 'I did occasionally wonder whether Rupert Murdoch ... might have instructed his editors at William Collins to produ… ,