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A Time of Gifts [with a letter about Paddy]

A Time of Gifts [with a letter about Paddy] by FERMOR, Patrick Leigh [Mougouch Fielding Letter] (1977)
Author: FERMOR, Patrick Leigh [Mougouch Fielding Letter]
Title: A Time of Gifts [with a letter from Mougouch Fielding, wife of Xan Fielding]
Year: 1977
Publisher: John Murray
Place: London & Crete
Dust Jacket: Yes
Signed: Yes
Price: £250
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First edition with a letter from Mrs Xan Fielding - Mougouch Fielding the wife of Paddy's best friend - written ‘On the boat to Corfu’ while ‘Paddy and Xan are tussling over the X.word puzzle of the Guardian’ at her side.

Near fine book, blue boards embossed in gold, lettering on the spine, no ownership inscriptions. The jacket which has John Craxton's classic design is very good with staining to the reverse of the jacket at the bottom of the spine, possibly a production fault as we have seen this in several copies of the work. Otherwise the jacket is very good, not price-clipped, fading to the spine. pp [8] 1-291 [1]

Laid in is a superb letter from Xan Fielding’s wife ‘Mougouch’ Fielding to a mutual friend of the Fieldings and Paddy, Janetta Parladé - the nickname Mougouch was given to her by her first husband the Armenian-American artist Arshile Gorky. Written over two sides of a large sheet of blank paper it is headlined ‘On the boat to Corfu 8 PM. Feb 5 [1976]. Janetta darling, Paddy and Xan are tussling over the Xword puzzle of the Guardian’ after spending a ‘heavenly 5 weeks… buoyed up by Paddy’s excitement at our trip to Italy… a very slow zig zag to bring Italy into Xan’s life & Paddy to Venice… and Joan [Leigh Fermor] back to the Mani.’ Mougouch considers Paddy’s recent brush with mouth cancer at some length ‘every little thing that goes wrong, a slight sore throat or an ear ache or itchy eye and the horrid spectre lurches into the foreground… he has been tired the next day, also eager to finish his CHAPTER’. That chapter was part of this book which would be published the following year. On the second page Mougouch describes how ‘Paddy and Xan had a 24 hour heroes’ visit to Crete - a long table in a village courtyard… and 40 or 50 of their war cronies & both obviously adored it... They X and P, are lovely together… I get a buzz as the children say from friendship.’

It was Leigh Fermor's good fortune to set out in the early nineteen thirties before Nazism and the Second World War changed the face of Europe for ever, but to wait forty years before writing this luminous narrative. This letter catches Paddy in the final stage of what proved to be a tortuous and decades-long attempt to write and finally publish the book. The result, replete with its memories of German beer cellars, of Prague under snow and love in Vienna, all occurring while the shadow of Nazism looms, bears comparison with the great English travel writers.
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