The Wilder Shores of Love

The Wilder Shores of Love

Originally published in 1954, The Wilder Shores of Love is the classic biography of four nineteenth-century European women who leave behind the industrialized west for Arabia in search of romance and fulfillment. Hailed by The Daily Telegraph as "enthralling to read," Lesley Blanch’s first book tells the story of Isabel Burton, the wife and traveling companion of the explorer Richard Burton; Jane Digby, who exchanged European society for an adventure in loving; Aimée Dubucq de Rivery, a Frenchwoman captured by pirates who became a member of the Turkish sultan’s harem; and Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss woman who dressed as a man and lived among the Arabs of Algeria.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439197349 | 
  • October 2010
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Wilder Shores of Love includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The Wilder Shores of Love is the true tale of four fearless women, all of whom left the safety of home to know and inhabit the mysterious East. Isabel Burton meets her destiny through marriage to the adventurous travel writer Richard Burton and becomes his companion in travel and love; Jane Digby marries a series of husbands on her quest to find her true love, whom she finally meets and marries in a tent in the desert; Aimée Dubucq de Rivery is kidnapped and forced into the Sultan’s harem in Turkey, only to become a beloved favorite and the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire; and Isabelle Eberhardt defies every convention to live as a man among desert Arabs. These stirring biographies by Lesley Blanch illustrate the lengths these four women went to in order to fulfill their longings—whether it was giving up family or living forever outside their homelands. The spirit of the desert moved each of the four with dramatic consequences.

  1. Needless to say, travel
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About the Author

Lesley Blanch
Photograph © Hoyningen Huene

Lesley Blanch

Lesley Blanch was a distinguished writer, painter, drama critic, and Vogue editor. The author of twelve books, includihng Pierre Loti and The Sabres of Paradise, she died in 2007. To learn more about Lesley, visit her website at