Philhellene

"Michael O’Sullivan’s book is highly readable and packed full of fascinating facts of historical and ‘social archaeology’, as Norman Stone so succinctly described it. O’Sullivan’s motivation in writing the book chimes perfectly with Paddy’s to ‘remember all those who helped him on his way’ in his trilogy chronicling his ‘great trudge’ aged 18 from ‘the Hook of Holland to Constantinople’... O’Sullivan like Paddy is a storyteller and entertainer and we are whisked away along heraldic scrolls and curlicues taking us on his own fugue through family after family, enlivened with portraits of Budapest in the 1930s, its private art galleries, its nightlife, The Arizona Nightclub with its revolving floor and private zoo, the cafés and brothels and peppered with irresistible gossip (such as Unity Mitford’s sex life!)... O’Sullivan is well placed to write about the Hungarian and Transylvanian nobility, living now in Budapest having spent his youth in Vienna and knowing many of the families concerned. He had access to their family papers as well as access to Soviet secret police files and thus could fill in the gaps describing what happened after Communism took hold... O’Sullivan takes the reader beyond and behind the ‘jolly ho’ youthful high spirits of Between the Woods and the Water where a flicker of impending doom is gone after breakfast to the real history of Paddy’s benefactors and of the time. Paddy later admits in a letter to Philip Sherrard in 1986 ‘I liked your idea of the dedication to all the people who were so kind to me and who are dead now. The end of some of them was shattering and I carefully kept that out of the book as it would have cast a blight over the whole thing’. I think Michael OSullivan has fulfilled that dedication without casting any blights." (The Philhellene is the Journal of the Patrick Leigh Fermor Society)
Reviewed book: 
Author: 
Michael O'Sullivan
ISBN: 
978-615-5225-64-2
paperback
$25.95 / €21.95 / £18.99