Regular price: $26.64

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

In 1933, at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on an extraordinary journey by foot - from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the first volume in a trilogy recounting the trip, and takes the listener with him as far as Hungary.

It is a book of compelling glimpses - not only of the events that were curdling Europe at that time, but also of its resplendent domes and monasteries, its great rivers, the sun on the Bavarian snow, the storks and frogs, the hospitable burgomasters who welcomed him, and that world's grandeurs and courtesies. His powers of recollection have astonishing sweep and verve, and the scope is majestic.

©1977 The estate of Patrick Leigh Fermor (P)2014 Hodder & Stoughton

Critic Reviews

"Nothing short of a masterpiece" (Jan Morris)
"Not only is the journey one of physical adventure but of cultural awakening. Architecture, art, genealogy, quirks of history and language are all devoured - and here passed on - with a gusto uniquely his" (Colin Thubron, Sunday Telegraph)
"Rightly considered to be among the most beautiful travel books in the language" (Independent)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    43
  • 4 Stars
    18
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    37
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    7
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    2
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Terrific book, disappointing reading

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I love this remarkable book so much, but I am having trouble listening to this plummy and affected reading of it. Listen to the sample carefully before buying--make sure you're OK with this style of delivery!

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Crispin Redman?

I don't know. Someone who just .... reads.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Steve
  • SUNRISE, FL, United States
  • 11-18-17

Lots of flowery talk

Not sure I got much out of the book. I guess I was looking for more information about the area at hand. The way the narrator spoke was enjoyable to listen to. No one I know speaks like that. Probably for good reason.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great story telling

It is a great story, very well written, probably the author took time in polishing the text, but even so it sounds extremely joyous in telling us his adventures and misadventures in a very lively, colorful and precise description of the places and people he encounters. The only shortcoming that we have in this audiobook is the pronunciation of the non English parts, quite atrocious, but understandable since there are very few narrators, if there is one, that has the range of language knowledge that this book requires.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • John S.
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 07-11-15

Narrator didn't seem the greatest fit perhaps?

I wish it weren't so, but I have to say I was mildly disappointed by the book. Part of the problem has to do with the audio narrator's somewhat dramatically effete-sounding style, although he seems to pronounce German phrases (which pop up regularly) like a native. Regarding the text itself, there seemed to be a fair amount of digression at the beginning, detracting from the travel narrative aspect. Moreover, he just seems too comfortable as long as there are English/German speakers at hand, moving from one host to another by word-of-mouth in Germany and Austria. Czechoslovakia seemed a transition zone (remember, Kafka wrote in German not Czech). So, I'm optimistic that the remainder of the trip covered by the sequel will be more adventurous, shall we say.

I was struck that he's hitting eastern Europe during their brief period of inter-war democracy, no empires, no communists. Still, every time he mentions Jews or Gypsies, I cringe knowing what's soon to follow.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • eleanor
  • 08-29-14

Travel journal

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes, fascinating journey beautifully described

What did you like best about this story?

The picture of 1930s Europe

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The time in Vienna

Any additional comments?

A really good read

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Steve_Morris
  • 10-13-14

Maybe better to read this at leisure

Would you try another book written by Patrick Leigh Fermor or narrated by Crispin Redman?

I am tempted to read the sequel rather than listen to the audio, which I found rather rushed.

What did you like best about this story?

The feeling of landscape and the times of the period between the wars. People's values and way of life are very well captured.

What three words best describe Crispin Redman’s performance?

Sounds like JustAMinute. It felt like he was racing not to hesitate, deviate from the subject or otherwise be caught out by Nicholas Parsons. I suppose there are a lot of words to read, but I found the delivery tiring after a while.

Was A Time of Gifts worth the listening time?

Yes I did enjoy it, but I am not sure about Listening to the sequel.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mark H
  • 12-05-14

An unusual, sometimes magical, travel book

I found this a rather strange book. I am glad that I listened to it, yet I am also rather ambivalent about its faithfulness. My reason is that the author, an upper-class, precocious and scholarly youth, walked across Europe in the early 1930’s as an 18yr old, but does not seem to have written up his account until 1977, when he would have been in his 60’s. Taken as a whole, I found it an impressive piece of writing, although there were times when I thought it was pretentious and prolix. However, if you immerse yourself in the world that Leigh Fermor invokes, and listen to the poetic and sometimes fantastical quality of his prose, and take it as an ‘out of the box’ reading experience, then I think you will have to give credit to the intellect that conjured it up. It may be uncharitable, but I suspect it was mainly written to satisfy the authors ego and to relive memories of youth. As I said, I am really glad to have listened to it, but I shall not be re-reading it, or choosing this author again. Too harsh perhaps.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ken
  • 02-23-15

Go Along For The Ride

I found that once I had got past the initial cynicism that invariably occurs everytime I read memoirs by people who seem able to recall every single detail of events that occurred ages ago and stopped wondering how they could have remembered it all (particularly with diaries being lost, copious quantities of drink consumed, etc.!) and simply concentrated on the story he was telling, this made a wonderful account of events that could, and possibly did, more-or-less take place in an era that is now, quite literally, history. Basically, it helped to adopt the journalistic maxim of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

As someone whom my art historian friend would quite rightly describe as a 'complete intellectual peasant' I did find the lengthy musings on schools of painting, architectural styles and linguistic derivations as rather irritating 'fillers' that interrupted an otherwise great, and frequently funny, story and found the idea of an 18-year fixating on whether or not Shakespeare's reference to 'the coast of Bohemia' was geographically and historically accurate somewhat bizarre - didn't he have other things to worry about? - but these were minor 'bumps in the road' compared to the overall enjoyment I derived. In fact, approaching the end of this book it was an easy decision to buy the next two books in the trilogy.

Much of the credit for my enjoyment must go to the wonderful narration of Crispin Redman - I only wish I could give him 10 stars instead of 5. What an absolutely wonderful case he makes for audible books. If there is some way by which my appreciation of his performance could be passed-on I would be delighted.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kevin Viney
  • 07-02-15

Beautifully evocative

Capturing the time and the place wonderfully.
Patrick Leigh Fermor deserves his reputation as a travel writer of note.
I will definitely be reading the other two volumes of his travels.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • S
  • 09-30-17

Geat story spoilt by narrator

I love this book but found the audio version seriously spoilt by the narrator. For a book largely set in German-speaking countries, & with many snippets of German, amongst other languages in the text, someone able to pronounce the language properly would have been a better choice; some of Crispin Redman's attempts are virtually unintelligible. Also his atrocious 'Allo-'Allo style cod-German accent when rendering quotes from German-speaking protagonists is rather wearing after a while.

  • Overall
  • Nike
  • 06-14-17

Love this book

Read it 20 years ago recommended by a G P friend Patrick. It helped in my recovery because inrigued me and made me concentrate and listen. Delightful reference s and allusions. I shall listen to it and its sequel again and again to absorb its richness and poetry. Thank for the reading, rarely misspoken and full of enthusiasm.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Trevor Davis
  • 09-02-16

Spoilt by inappropriate narration.

I first read the first two volumes shortly after they were published and I thought it would be enjoyable to listen to these again before listening to The Broken Road. I wish I had just bought the third volume and read it.
This is a book, not a play. I am possibly in a minority but in an audiobook I want the book to be read, not acted. Crispin Redman reads as if this were a soliloquy, giving almost every word an exaggerated emphasis. This, and the high-speed delivery of someone who seems over exited and wants to blurt out the story in the shortest time, is very quickly tiring to me.
I would prefer a measured, relaxed reading. The words and one's imagination are all that is required.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Roderic
  • 10-09-15

A Passionate Account of Great Depth

I enjoyed this very much though the numerous branchings into history, literature, art and culture were sometimes difficult to place in context. On this level there would have been an advantage in having the text in front of me so I could reference details more readily.

The writing is excellent and the narration fine, and the story brings home a style of travel -- an admirable self-sufficiency aided by Fate and strangers -- that is perhaps much harder to consider in this century.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • J. D. Burnell
  • 09-10-15

Superb

Any additional comments?

Wonderful travelogue of a pre-war Europe. Another reviewer has noted the tendency of PLF to break off into discursions on abstruse subjects from time to time; unlike that reviewer, I wholly enjoyed these trips into history, art, architecture and what feels like a hundred other subjects. It seems hard to credit that a 19 year-old could be quite so well versed in classics, history and dozens of other topics as PLF was, particularly given his school record, but perhaps I'm being too quick to judge by modern standards. Crispin Redman is the perfect narrator, catching the character of the man without alienating him from us, which would have been easy to do, and acts, rather than reads, the book.<br/><br/>Finished this afternoon and the next volume is already downloaded ready for tomorrow. i can't wait.