FROM WILDER SHORES, The Tables of my Travels

Lesley Blanch's stories of where she tasted certain dishes or of some associated episode all form part of her travels. She considers that, "A wasted meal is a wasted moment in life." The title of her first, bestselling book, The Wilder Shores of Love, has led to her friends using her phrase to describe her cooking, or menus, as being "very wilder shores".

She writes, "This book is not a cookery book in the classical sense, and no more than glancingly autobiographical. Nor is it strictly a travel book, although it does tell something of far lands and the circumstances which have led me to eat local dishes in a variety of local settings, from Rothschild dinner tables to Turkoman tents. It could be best described as a sketchbook: sketches offering the dishes, places and people I have encountered while on the move through life." Her culinary adventures range across memorable breakfasts and French diplomatic dinners; sumptuous Turkish dishes and pushtu kebabs of lamb marinated in yoghurt and vinegar; and Nile-side meals or English puddings.

She imagines the only sort of Christmas dinner she would really enjoy, with twelve guests irrespective of centuries, language, or geography, including: Greta Garbo, Alexander Pushkin, Marie Duplessis, St Francis of Assissi, General de Gaulle, H. M. the Emperor Zahimuddin Muhammed Babur, the Sultan of Oman...

ELIZABETH DAVID, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Enchanting ... this must be one of the nicest Christmas-present books published over the last year

SUNDAY TIMES It is a high moment for the habitual reader of cookery books to find one that is really different. This is such a book

JEREMY ROUND, INDEPENDENT From Wilder Shores: The Tables of My Travels is a collection of short feature articles on subjects such as breakfast, puddings, eating on trains and picnics, generously larded with her experiences in Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Persia, and all over the Arab countries. If, as Lesley Blanch says, The Wilder Shores of Love was written to "'show women that there is more to life that the cold emancipation of office work," then perhaps the present title is to do a similar job against mass egalitarianism of McDonald's ... My favourite section is a fantasy Christmas banquet ... Her writing offers unique insights into a vanished and vanishing world

Cookery. John Murray 1989 HB 192 pages ISBN 0719546923



THE NINE TIGER MAN, A Tale of Low Behaviour in High Places

When East meet West - in this witty satirical romance, Lesley Blanch has recreated the British India of the 1850's, where representatives of Victoria's England preside uneasily over the glittering remnants of the Moghul Empire. The Nine-Tiger Man is a piquant tale of a Maharajah's heir, a Viscount's daughter and an uninhibited chambermaid who sampled one another's environments and were never the same again. Lesley Blanch’s only novel was written while in Rajasthan: “I had pulled a ligament in my leg and had to stay on an island in Jaipur. You could hear the leopards coughing at dusk in the far hills, and the parakeets flew around turning the sky green. One day I saw what I thought was a log, but it was a crocodile. I had heard the story of a group of English women being put on that island during the Mutiny and not daring to escape because of the crocodiles - they were just stuck there, with no news, and fearing the worst. From that I imagined the whole novel.”

REBECCA WEST This book is exquisite — and a new story

ISABEL QUIGLEY, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH Written with panache, high spirits and a faultless control of plot, timing and that often uncontrollable commodity, fun

OBSERVER An outrageous nineteenth-century romance ... the languishing Lady Florence and her down-to-earth maid fall enjoyable prey to the lusts of a Maharaja's favourite during the Sepoy Mutiny ... a mocking confrontation of the attitudes of Clarissa and Fanny Hill set against an exotically sensuous Indian background

ROBERT PITMAN, SUNDAY EXPRESS It is both delightful and utterly outrageous. Inevitably it will be a huge success ... the unique charm of this novel lies in its subtle shifts from mood to mood, from romance to satire, to tragedy, to realism

JULIAN JEBB, SUNDAY TIMES Rare to find an entertainment so unashamed

DAILY MAIL Cynical, sensual, amusing

Fiction. Collins, 1965 HB 192 pages

 


FARAH, Shahbanou of Iran

Lesley Blanch has always chosen what she wanted to write: this is the only one of her books to have been written on the basis of a commission. The biography of Farah Diba - from an ancient Azerbaijani family of landowning nobility — who married His Imperial Majesty The Shahanshah of Iran in 1959, it vividly evokes the Shahbanou's personal family life and public works, set against the historical background of Iran. She, her husband, and their four children went into exile following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Biography. Collins, 1978 HB 160 pages illus ISBN 0002112396