Lesley Blanch was a most remarkable lady. Quartet is delighted to be given the privilege of publishing Far to Go and Many to Love, with a subtitle, People and Places. The book, edited by Georgia de Chamberet, her god-daughter (who spent a good deal of her time at Quartet) is best placed to write the Introduction and to have been the driving force in getting the book published.
Blanch was a Londoner by birth, but spent the greater part of her life travelling those remote regions of the world her twelve works of biography, memoir and cookery record so vividly. Savvy, self-possessed and successful, she was a bold and daring writer and an astute observer of places and people – their quirks, habits and passions. Her storytelling is underpinned by a strikingly vivid imagination and scholarly research.
The book encompasses a selection of her early journalism, biographical essays and traveller’s tales, conceived and written at a time when women were expected to stay at home. It is an irresistible sequel to her posthumous memoirs, On the Wilder Shores of Love: The Bohemian Life.
Far to go and Many to Love: People and Places is illustrated with photographs and Blanch’s sketches, many seen for the first time, covering a miscellany of subjects, from Vivien Leigh, polygamy and the bazaars of Afghanistan, to the Orient Express and the strange story of Lise Christiani, a young cellist who journeyed across Siberia. Elsewhere Blanch remembers her time in post-war Bulgaria with her husband, the diplomat-novelist Romain Gary, and Iran before the revolution of 1979. Her approach to the distant past and her own present is both an amalgam of the romantic and an exquisitely dramatic view of the world she lived in.
This collection captures the essence of the life of a passionate explorer who spanned the 20th century. Readers of this book will no doubt applaud such a varied life as well as her courage and addiction to travel and the exploration of things most of us only dream of. Buy it, and tell your friends to do the same.
Everyone will be thrilled and in awe of such an indomitable character whose achievement was incalculable.