14 May 2007

The Wilder Shores of Love

Lesley Blanch at her 100th birthday party in the gardens of the Clos du Perronet, Menton

Today I went to the beautiful and moving funeral of Lesley Blanch, the writer and traveller. It was held in the church of Roquebrune village. Roquebrune adjoins Menton. Lesley Blanch, who died at the age of 102, lived in Menton and was, at one time married to the writer and diplomat, Romain Gary. She was always known locally as Madame Gary. You can read her obituraries in The Times, The Independent, The Telegraph. Here is The Telegraph's obituary - it's worth reading - she was an amazing lady. Suffice to say I am privileged to have known her. The Wilder Shores of Love was Lesley's best known book - it has never been out of print since its first publication in 1954.

Inside the church awaiting arrival of coffin

The priest making the blessing with incense

Outside the church


  1. Anonymous14 May, 2007

    Wow. A lovely lady. A rich life. They don't make them like her anymore. It is a shame that she has passed on. I read her obit and found it thrilling. I understand some of her lifestyle as it borders mine. A rich life to be sure. She will, no doubt, be missed and may become something of a legend in your city.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Thank you for your generous comments about my blog and posts.

  2. The obituary was both long and interesting. She obviously was a special woman. The portrait you provided of her makes her appear very regal. Wonderful job!!

  3. What a lovely lady and she doesn't look like 100 years old. Wow! Nice photos.

  4. I quite enjoyed reading the obit and will look for that book! Is the photograph from her party one that you took?
    It's lovely!

  5. Chris & Deb, Yes I took it - my old camera.

    And yes, lv2cpbk, she didn't look 100 did she?

    She was always very stylish and loved to wear unusal turbans on her head and beautiful flowing Arab style clothes. Her heart lived in Arabia, as you will see if you get the chance to read any of her books.

  6. Great tribute to a great lady!

    What a nice job you did with this post, Jilly! Great photos and a lot of info. I did not know any of the parties, but learned through your links.
    And as I was reading about her rich, eccentric and thrilling life, I thought of you...

  7. She looks like a queen, and I love the portrait photo you took of her. What a wonderful tribute.

  8. Lovely narrative, Jilly. I'd heard of her vaguely but knew nothing till I read the obituary.
    The photos too are stunning.

  9. Yes she appears very regal and she had a great life too.

  10. Fascinating woman! Funny, I was just reading about Romain Gary a few days after after we watched Jean Seberg in "Breathless."

    Anyway, "Madame Gary" was lovely, and layered.

  11. Your photo of her made her look so beautiful and regal, yet in a soft way, thank you for this tribute and for the links! thanks!

  12. What an interesting life! I hope to do half as much as she has done before I go.

  13. Dear Jilly,

    Thank you for this beautiful picture of Lesley on her 100th birthday.

    FYI, I am the author of a book published in French, "Seule sur le Transsibérien" (Alone on the Transsiberian) which is dedicated to Lesley.

    Published in 2006, she managed to read it before passing away on 7 May 2007, 3 years day to day after the beginning of my adventure in Russia. She was very moved by the tribute. We spent 3 days together sharing pictures of Siberia and memories of Russia - she was my heart and my soul.

    FYI, the book, an account of a 23,000km journey across Russia, is due to be published in a new edition in France in May 2010.

    I would love to suggest your picture in high res of Lesley to my publisher, Transboreal. My idea is to include it in the first or last few pages of the book.

    Please can you possibly get back to me at geraldinedunbar@yahoo.fr with your contact telephone
    or call me +336 23 61 35 65.

    Urgent! Thank you so much -

    Geraldine Dunbar
    Vineuil St Firmin (Oise)


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