The Violins of Saint-Jacques (NYRB Classics) (Paperback)
An NYRB Classics Original
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s only novel displays the same lustrous way with words as his beloved travel trilogy (A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water, and The Broken Road), the memoir of his youthful walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. This slim book starts with the meeting of an English traveler and an enigmatic elderly Frenchwoman on an Aegean island. He is captivated by her painting of a busy Caribbean port in the shadow of a volcano, which leads her to tell him the story of her childhood in that town back at the beginning of the twentieth century. The tale she unfolds, set in the tropical luxury of the island of Saint-Jacques, is one of romantic intrigue and decadence involving the descendants of slaves and a fading French aristocracy. Then, on the night of the annual Mardi Gras ball, a whole world comes to a catastrophic and haunting end.
James Campbell is the author of several works of nonfiction, including Invisible Country: A Journey Through Scotland, Exiled in Paris: Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett and Others on the Left Bank, and Syncopations: Beats, New Yorkers, and Writers in the Dark. He writes the weekly NB column in the Times Literary Supplement under the pen name J.C.
"The only work of fiction by Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor (the decorated war hero, admired travel writer and stylist) is doubly a period piece. Written and first published just over half a century ago, in 1953, its main action is set another half-century before that, in 1902. It is also, in its way, a masterpiece...There is more than a hint of mischief, and indeed humour, about Paddy’s nostalgia for a lost world, and its ethereal afterglow that lives on in the violins of the title." —Roderick Beaton, Times Literary Supplement
"A sojourn in the Caribbean inspired a travel book and a novella, set in 1902 on an island in the Antilles, about love and intrigue in the over-blown and over-mannered society of the French aristocracy...The Violins of Saint-Jacques is a masterpiece in the minor mode." —Brian Vintcent, The Globe and Mail
"[The Violins of Saint-Jacques] brings alive the glamour and the passions of the planters in their heyday. This tale of a whole rich island being destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the middle of a splendid planters’ ball is based on the true story of the annihilation in 1902." —Robin Hanbury-Tension, The Telegraph
"The Violins of Saint Jacques, filled with lush imagery and elaborate historical reconstruction, deserves to be more widely known." —James Ferguson, Caribbean Beat
"A haunting threnody for a vanished world as the sole survivor remembers the glow and decadence of the Mardi Gras balls on the night when her Caribbean island was destroyed by a volcanic eruption." —The Observer
The Inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival was a huge success!
Collected Works was very proud to have been on-site all weekend as the official bookstore of the Santa Fe Festival. Bestselling, prizewinning authors and literary legends like Margaret Atwood, Joy Harjo, Colson Whitehead, Sandra Cisneros, Jon Krakauer, amongst others, spent time in our mini-bookstore in the lobby of the Convention Center and signed hundreds of books, which we now have in stock. So if you missed the festival but are looking for a signed copy of one of their books, please call us or come in to browse.
Purchase your books by festival authors directly from CW below:
Margaret Atwood; Freddie Bitsoie; Sandra Cisneros; Lynn Cline; William deBuys; Ashley Ford; John Grisham; Roshi Joan Halifax; Joy Harjo; Anne Hillerman; Cheryl Alters Jamison; Craig Johnson; Asma Khan; Phil Klay; Jon Krakauer; Valeria Luiselli; Deborah Madison; Emily St. John Mandel; George R. R. Martin; James McGrath Morris; Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co.; Carmella Padilla Douglas Preston; Kirstin Valdez Quade; Bob Shacochis; Henry Shukman; Hampton Sides; Bryant Terry; Darryl Lorenzo Wellington; Colson Whitehead; Don Winslow; Lawrence Wright