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Golden Horn

Malise Ruthven, 1 March 1984

Pierre Loti: Portrait of an Escapist 
by Lesley Blanch.
Collins, 330 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 00 211649 9
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... made him rich and famous, dubbed him the Magician – an apt enough nickname. Loti’s style, as Lesley Blanch points out, does not translate well into English, nor has it been well translated. It is deceptively simple, relying on assonance and repetition to lull the reader into a somnolent trance in which the commonest words seem transfigured: ‘Les ...

I am the thing itself

Rosemary Hill: Hooray for Harriette, 25 September 2003

Harriette Wilson’s ‘Memoirs’ 
edited by Lesley Blanch.
Phoenix, 472 pp., £9.99, December 2002, 1 84212 632 6
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The Courtesan’s Revenge: Harriette Wilson, the Woman who Blackmailed the King 
by Frances Wilson.
Faber, 338 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20504 6
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... been shunned by academics. ‘Harriette Wilson’s life was deplorable – but how readable!’ Lesley Blanch exclaims in her introduction to this latest reprint, anxious, like almost everyone else who has written about Wilson, especially the women, to distance herself from her subject. Virginia Woolf, whose essay on Wilson was published in The Moment ...

Only the Camels

Robert Irwin: Wilfred Thesiger, 6 April 2006

Wilfred Thesiger: The Life of the Great Explorer 
by Alexander Maitland.
HarperCollins, 528 pp., £25, February 2006, 0 00 255608 1
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... of Abyssinia (though he conceded that Waugh was a good stylist). He was rude about Freya Stark and Lesley Blanch, and he rowed with Joy Adamson. He described Jan Morris’s Sultan in Oman as ‘chatty rubbish’. He thought that the Marsh Arabs had been misrepresented in Maxwell’s book and that A Ring of Bright Water did not give him enough credit for ...


Jon Halliday, 2 June 1983

In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... that the vainglorious Iranian royal family sought and found its biographers and publishers. Lesley Blanch is signed up to write a biography of the Empress. Margaret Laing is invited round to lunch with her publisher, Lord Longford, to straighten out her biography of the Shah. Rather late in the day Lord Weidenfeld suggests that Lord Chalfont take ...

Au revoir et merci

Christopher Tayler: Romain Gary, 6 December 2018

The Roots of Heaven 
by Romain Gary, translated by Jonathan Griffin.
Godine, 434 pp., $18.95, November 2018, 978 1 56792 626 2
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Promise at Dawn 
by Romain Gary, translated by John Markham Beach.
Penguin, 314 pp., £9.99, September 2018, 978 0 241 34763 8
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... agree, to make her sound less Eastern European and/or less Jewish. His first marriage, to Lesley Blanch, author of The Wilder Shores of Love (1954), whom he met in London in 1944, isn’t mentioned, perhaps because it doesn’t fit with his frequent complaints – or boasts – that his mother’s fierce love spoiled him for other women, or ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... was fading: Settle made Vogue a magazine for the Bright Young Things, who, according to Lesley Blanch, a contributor, were ‘cropped, plucked and pickled in cocktails and nicotine’. Vogue positioned itself as the authority for the new style. In Rosamond Lehmann’s Invitation to the Waltz, Kate goes to a dance in an apple-green frock (made ...

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