Book Review – Joan: The Remarkable Life of Joan Leigh Fermor

Joan: The Remarkable Life of Joan Leigh Fermor by Simon Fenwick (Macmillan) ISBN 9781509848690

Joan was born in 1912 to a wealthy family in London. Nevertheless she met some fashionable, well-known people through her father who changed her life. She featured in society magazines and became well-known. Later, she married a journalist but the relationship failed.

During the war she worked as a cartographer and travelled widely. In Cairo in 1942 she met Paddy Leigh Fermor and fell in love. Unfortunately, they were often apart, with Paddy being a travel writer. Joan made a living as a photographer and was known for her travels in Russia and America.

Paddy and Joan decided to build a house in Kardamyli in Greece where they eventually married and stayed until Joan’s death in 2003.

I found Joan to be a multi-layered person: private yet sociable. She lives the Bohemian lifestyle which defied the norms of that time. People valued her opinions and were inspired by her. Men admired her beauty and style.

I felt her frustration in not having the children she desired.

Simon Fenwick through extensive research reveals Joan’s extraordinary life, which was until now only defined by her husband and their famous friends.

Dawn Blankfield