Roumeli describes Fermor’s travels around Northern Greece and Macedonia. He visits secluded and remote areas and describes the rugged countryside and how people of these remote regions live. As he meets Sarakatsan shepherds and spends some time with them, visits the impressive monasteries of Meteora, attempts to track a pair of Byron’s slippers in Missolonghi and investigates Kravara and its secret language, he makes acute observations about these communities and their history.
His prose is rich, and his erudition is immense. His love for this long-lost world is touchingly apparent. Roumeli is not just travel writing but a moving celebration of Greece and its culture. Patrick Leigh Fermor is one of my favorite authors and yet, of all of his books, this is not my favorite1. There’s a certain lack of focus (the whole Crete divagation, while poetic and evocative, has little to do with the context of this book2), and some musings on Greeks’ nature, while interesting, tend to run long.
- PLF’s Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese and the whole A Time of Gits trilogy are some of my all-time favorite travel books. [return]
- On Fermor’s activity as a secret agent in Crete during WWII, I greatly appreciated Ill Met by Moonglight: The Abduction of General Kreipe, by W. Stanley Moss. [return]