Sebastian Faulks on Patrick Leigh Fermor “He’s a bit of an old windbag”

There was a period last year when Sebastian Faulks was seemingly never out of the newspapers what with Birdsong coming to the stage and other activities. I found this little piece in the Independent

He is hailed as one of the greatest travel writers of the 20th century, but Patrick Leigh Fermor is not up to much, says Sebastian Faulks. The bestselling author of Birdsong tells me that despite several attempts he has never been able to get through Leigh Fermor’s seminal book, A Time of Gifts, saying “He’s a bit of an old windbag isn’t he?” Faulks was on garrulous form at the Hatchards’ authors party last week, turning his sights on Joan Bakewell too. “Why’s she gone and written a novel? Everyone thinks they can do one now.” Next up, Debo Devonshire: “Why has she written another book? They can’t be short of money can they?” Watch out!

I have to admit that I have actually made my way through two of Faulk’s novels: Charlotte Gray which was dull and Birdsong which is populated by unattractive characters and in the end becomes completely boring and fantastical. Never again!


8 thoughts on “Sebastian Faulks on Patrick Leigh Fermor “He’s a bit of an old windbag”

  1. Peter Macdonald

    Faulks is a wee bit of a young(ish) windbag then it would appear, but his ill-founded comments raise the question: is he subconsciously begging to be ill met by moonlight perhaps? I think he might be.

  2. George

    PLF never made concessions to his readers. I enjoy his books and share, with the exception of his love of the architecture of places of worship, his pleasure in people and languages. Above all perhaps his love of travel keeps me on board. For the hard of thinking such as Faulks, I can well understand incomprehension being rather quickly followed by belligerence. The man has neither the wit nor the humility to admit to his failings.

    Having said that, I willingly admit to needing to take my time reading his books. They are so dense with knowledge, both arcane and more recent, that I have to allow myself a period of reflection to absorb his writings before turning to the next page.

  3. Doris Brewster-Perry

    “Faulks was on garrulous form at the Hatchards’ authors ”

    Code for “Here’s a pot calling the kettle black”, perhaps?

    Anyway, better an old windbag than a middle-aged one anyday.

  4. durrell2012

    Sebastian Faulks seems blissfully unaware that he is a most presumptive fellow.

    What did Wilde say about George Moore? Something about the uneasiness we all feel when we overhear someone “conducting his whole education in public.”

  5. Aris D. Mazarakis

    Faulks who? Sorry, never heard of you, sir. Paddy, on the other hand, is loved, respected and read by people in two great nations. At least in this country we’ll make sure that he remains what he really was: a role model for difficult times

  6. Alison

    Always interesting how middle of the road writers like Faulks dismiss the gifted and unique.
    Faulks certainly lacks that magical combination of intellectual rigor, love of ideas, events, friendships and respect for people in general. Shame on you Mr Faulks.

  7. Roger de Brantes

    I tried to make my way through his novel set in France, the title (or content, if any) of which I don’t remember: Bilge dissumulated by the exotic (for England) settings, serious ignorance of the local language and mores, in short another Mayle wannabee with a pseudo-historical twist. Actually, to be panned by this marketer (you can’t really say journalist or writer, can you?) is, in a way, a kind of compliment.. Faulks probably never got over the fact that both his father and PLF were brave and honorable soldiers, and that he is what he is…


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