On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life — Lesley Blanch
edited by Georgia de Chamberet
LESLEY BLANCH What does it mean to be a great romantic? To live it as well as write about it.
Most famous for The Wilder Shores of Love, Lesley Blanch was a scholarly romantic and a bold writer with a lifelong passion for Russia, the Balkans and the Middle East.
Born in 1904, she died aged 103, having gone from being a household name to a mysterious and neglected living legend. She was writing about her eccentric Edwardian childhood at her death; that work, never before published, now forms the beginning of this one-of-a-kind memoir.
Lesley Blanch chose to `escape the boredom of convention’: having first worked as a theatre designer, she became British Vogue’s features editor during World War II and then, in 1946 she sailed from England to travel the world with her diplomat-novelist husband, Romain Gary. By the time they reached Hollywood in the late 1950s they were literary celebrities. When Gary left her for the young actress, Jean Seberg, Blanch headed East to travel across Siberia, Outer Mongolia, Turkey, Iran, Samarkand, Afghanistan, Egypt, the Sahara.
This book collects together the story of her marriage, previously published only in French; her journalism on the artistic melting pot that was London between the wars; and a selection of her most evocative travel pieces, to create the story of a fascinating, bohemian – and, at times outrageous - life that spanned the twentieth century.
Memoir | Virago, Little Brown UK | 15 January 2015 | HB 450pp illus £20 | ISBN 978 0349005447 PB 12 January 2017 978-0349005461 £10
US rights: Kate.Hibbert@littlebrown.co.uk | French edition: La Table Ronde, Paris 2018. Translated by Lucien d'Azay
The sequel is published by Quartet Books Far To Go and Many To Love: People and Places
A Selection of Media Coverage
WATERSTONE'S PICCADILLY It’s a wonderful read and deserves its place in our Valentine’s window
INDEPENDENT Sumptuous and captivating
DAILY MAIL Deliciously readable
SPECTATOR Lesley Blanch was incapabl;e of writing boringly ... On The Wilder Shores of Love brings her personality vividly to life
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Readers can enjoy Blanch's precise use of words, astonishing range of reference, and ability to get under the skin
TELEGRAPH A deliciously readable monument to a writer who combined a steely resilience and capacity for hard work with an elegant frivolity and a voracious appetite for love, beauty and adventure
BBC Radio 4 'Today', 12 to 9 a.m. Monday 19 January 2015
Savvy, self-possessed, talented and successful, Lesley Blanch was a bold and daring writer, travelling at a time when women were expected to stay at home and be subservient to the needs of husbands and children. She was an inspiration to a generation of women – Marianne Faithfull and Shirley Conran among them.
This selection of her writings brims with her customary wit and sheds new light on an eternally fascinating – and truly inimitable – character. Far To Go and Many To Love unites writings on subjects as various as Vivien Leigh, polygamy, the Orient Express and Afghanistan.
Illustrated with photos and unpublished sketches from Blanch’s portfolio from when she worked with Russian émigré theatre director, Theodore Komisarjevsky, whom she only ever referred to as 'The Traveller'. He staged four of Chekhov’s plays in Barnes theatre during 1925-6 and brought Director's Theatre to England.
COUNTRY LIFE This new collection of her early journalism, biographical essays, and travellers' tales adds a whole new dimension to her adventurous and romantic life ... Blanch may be best remembered for The Wilder Shores of Love, but as she explores the souks and bazaars of Central Asia in this eccentric and fascinating book, she also discovers 'the wilder shores of shopping'. She is as good company on the page as she must have been in the alleyways of Bukhara.
Features an insightful introduction with a distinctly Russian flavour.
Memoir | Quartet Books | 1 June 2017 | HB 352pp illus £25 | ISBN 978-0704374348