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Books: A Time To Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Murray, pounds 7.99.

Byline: Reviewed by Lynne Fearn

Patrick Leigh Fermor is a master of prose and one of our greatest living travel writers. As he approaches his 90th birthday, fans are still awaiting the last instalment of his trilogy recounting his journey in the 1930s from Holland to Constantinople. While we're waiting, we have A Time to Keep Silence, a short anthology of his experiences of monastic life in France and Turkey, first published in 1957.

From the French Abbey of St Wandrille to the abandoned Rock Monasteries of Turkey, the secluded lives of monks are explored in highly evocative detail.

Fermor lived at the very centre of the monks' world, his room a tiny, bare cell offering scant material comforts. The book describes his struggles to come to terms with his self-chosen solitude and the process is slow and painful.

His unique style of writing and talent for observation give us so much more than other books in this genre and I hope the final part of his trilogy will not be far away.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 27, 2004
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