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Paddy Leigh Fermor is better remembered as a travel writer, but this, his only novel – stands as elegant testament to his powers as a writer of fiction. Based around the disastrous events in Martinique in 1902 – to say what would be to give too much away! – the novel is divided between the calm indolence of late Colonial French-Caribbean society and the horror of a disaster on a scale so great it defies imagining…

John Murray/paperback/£8.99/9780719555299

Dan Eltringham