As the first archivist to peruse and collate “Paddy” Leigh Fermor’s papers (19 cartons strong), Simon Fenwick unearthed a tantalising glimpse of his enigmatic wife. Daughter of a wealthy First Lord of The Admiralty, but a firm believer in open marriage, this courageous young lady embarked on a colourful, amorous career that ended with a 40-year marriage to her singularly accomplished husband.
As kidnapper-in-chief of the ill-starred German General, Heinrich Kreipe, of which volumes continue to be written, Patrick Leigh Fermor lives timelessly on. His wife, however, does not; and in this revealing tome, her biographer lays bare the life of a brilliant, brainy beauty, whose reputation as a photographer, tabloid topic, society darling and sexual adventuress matched her husband’s own reputation every step of the way. Pursued by her many admirers (Cyril Connolly, John Betjeman, the Lygons of Madresfield, and even the Maharajah of Jaipur, among them), Joan Leigh Fermor’s posthumous reputation has been fully, colourfully – and deservedly – restored.