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 wonderful 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 0 349 00544 7
US rights: Kate.Hibbert@littlebrown.co.uk | French rights: Helena.Doree@littlebrown.co.uk
Publicity Manager, Little, Brown Book Group: Emily Burns | @Emily_BookPR
Lesley Blanch on Amazon UK
Lesley Blanch on Amazon France
Lesley Blanch on Amazon US
Media Coverage, a selection
Waterstone’s flagship store, Piccadilly, London: ‘It’s a wonderful read and deserves its place in our Valentine’s window.’
The Spectator: ‘Lesley Blanch was incapable of writing boringly or badly.’
The Independent: ‘Books that feature portraits of Muslim identity and community not defined by issues of religious fundamentalism have never been as important as today. So it's pleasing that in texts that otherwise couldn't be more different, this is something that links Nawaz's memoirs with those of Lesley Blanch, the intrepid traveller and writer whose accounts of her voyages in the Middle East evoke a region, according to her god-daughter and the editor of On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life (Virago, £20), Georgia de Chamberet, "as it once was, before bombs and fundamentalism became daily news". This sumptuous and captivating collection of Blanch's work includes some of her travel writing, her memoirs of growing up in Chiswick at the turn of the century, pieces written as British Vogue's features editor during the Second World War, and a narrative of her marriage to the diplomat and novelist Romain Gary, including their life in Hollywood in the 1950s and portraits of the great and the good she crossed paths with.’
The Sunday Telegraph, review 5*: ‘This volume, edited with affection and grace by de Chamberet is 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.’
Country Life: ‘Lesley Blanch in her own words — always interesting, always flirtatiously alive, always passionate.’
Australian Financial Review: ‘A flamboyant and iconic writer who mixed travel memoir, scholarship and romance in a passionate, heady cocktail.’
Literary Review: "She gives an unflinching and admirably mondaine account of her exciting but difficult marriage . . . Blanch was a human observation post in a wilderness of oddity. She adored Afghanistan and Oman above all terrains, while Bulgaria held a cherished place in her heart . . . She was both an outlandish traveller and a connoisseur in the art of enjoying life."
BBC Radio 4: A Good Read, BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 31 March, 2015.
BBC Radio 4: The Today programme, Monday 19 January, 2015. Hear it here: