To the One I Love Best, Signed by Ludwig Bemelmans
[Signed] Bemelmans, Ludwig. To the One I Love Best, Episodes from the Life of Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe). First Edition. 1955. Book is in very good condition; dust jacket is in very good minus condition—jacket shows chipping and fraying to the spine ends. Book is signed “Ludwig Bemelmans” on the half title page. The previous owner has neatly written her name on the upper corner of the blank page preceding the title page.
Of the books on Elsie de Wolfe, the grand dame of American decoration, this memoir is the most personal … the most idiosyncratic. Bemelmans was a protégé of Elsie de Wolfe and her marriage blanc husband, Sir Charles Mendl. Bemelmans met the Mendls in Los Angeles during World War II when he was writing screenplays for MGM and the Mendls, refugees from German-occupied France, were waiting out the war from the comfort a Beverly Hills manse. De Wolfe was then in her late eighties. Though her health had begun to wobble, her zest for living remained at full throttle. The book is a series of light vignettes in which Bemelmans begins to understand the substance (tragedy?) beneath Elsie’s professed frivolity.
“Now [America] is a young country, and you can’t expect Louis Fourteenth to come overnight.”
--Elsie de Wolfe