The classic story of four nineteenth-century women who, for different reasons, gravitated to the wildness of the Middle East and North Africa.
“There have been many women who have followed the beckoning Eastern star” says Lesley Blanch. She writes about four such women in The Wilder Shores Of Love – Isabel Burton (who married the Arabist and explorer Richard), Jane Digby el-Mezrab (Lady Ellenborough, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain), Aimée Dubucq de Rivery (a French convent girl captured by pirates and sent to the Sultan’s harem in Istanbul), and Isabelle Eberhardt (a Swiss linguist who felt most comfortable in boy’s clothes and lived among the Arabs in the Sahara).
They all escaped from the constraints of nineteenth century Europe and fled to the Middle East, where they found love, fulfillment, and “glowing horizons of emotion and daring”. Blanch’s first, bestselling book, The Wilder Shores Of Love pioneered a new kind of group biography focusing on women escaping the boredom of convention. Yet although of widely different natures, backgrounds and origins, all had this in common – each found, in the East, ‘glowing horizons of emotion and daring’. And each of them, in their own way, used love as a means of individual expression, of liberation and fulfilment.
Their true stories, first told grippingly by Blanch in 1954, are amazing...makes you realise that we, with our wimpish long-haul packages and compulsory travel insurance, don't know we're born.
Val Hennessy, DAILY MAIL