Queen of Romance

The first biography of the bestselling author and journalist Marguerite Jervis

During the course of her 60-year career, Marguerite Florence Laura Jervis (1886-1964) published 149 books, with 11 novels adapted for film, including The Pleasure Garden (1925), the directorial debut of Alfred Hitchcock.

In her heyday, she sold hundreds of thousands of novels; she wrote for newspapers, women’s magazines and the silent movie screen; she married one of Wales’ most controversial literary figures, Caradoc Evans. She was an actress, a theatrical impresario, and one of the most successful novelists of her time, but now she is largely forgotten.

Known variously as Mrs Caradoc Evans, Oliver Sandys, Countess Barcynska and by many other pseudonyms, who was she really?

pink petaled flowers bouquet

Liz Jones has dug deep beneath the romanticised tale told in Jervis’s own memoir to reveal what made this driven and determined woman and how she became a runaway popular success during the most turbulent years of the 20th century

I was really looking forward to immersing myself in this book. Memoir is one of my favourite genres and Liz Jones really knows how to bring her subject matter to life – I could not put this book down once I’d started it last Sunday in beautiful Pittenweem. Thanks so much to Anne Cater who always picks such great books for me and hosts such fabulous tours. I’ve discovered so many amazing books through blogging and this is right up there amongst my favourite non fiction reads of the year so far.

It was a ‘read right through until the end’ moment and I just loved having the time to plunge right in and savour this fabulous read.  It was the perfect book to take my mind off the hustle and bustle of a busy school in the middle of COVID regulations, and travel back into a time gone by and read about this amazing life.  This really is a book with something for everyone. It’s a window into another era, recreated with charm, intelligence and a real sense of recording a fascinating and memorable life.

Liz Jones certainly has invoked the spirit of her subject through the pages as she conjures  Marguerite to life for you as her world is lovingly recreated in these pages.  Many of these fascinating snippets are brought vividly to life as we immerse ourselves in a life that truly is unforgettable. We see all of her unique character quirks as we hear about her runaway successes and some of the facts that her fans might never have been aware of. Liz Jones’ writing is as memorable as the character she’s describing and you finish the book really feeling like you’ve spent time with Marguerite and had the chance to live some of these moments alongside her

I even went off looking up some of her more famous adaptations as I was reading about Marguerite I loved this photo on the front cover and feel like it brings this fascinating and determined woman to life in her rather splendid checked suit and wonderful plumed hat

This book has some absolutely killer lines – and that’s one of the things that made it such a perfect Sunday afternoon read. The fact that  Liz emphasises things for us by making us see the woman behind the famous and successful writer and celebrity is one of the things that I loved most about this book – It is also a sharp look at the way society was in those days and the role of women, even if they were hugely professionally successful. 

If you love a book where you get caught up in both the writing and the subject matter you’ll love The Queen Of Romance It’s fascinating and entertaining in equal measure and really brings this forgotten celebrity vividly to live through its pages in all her Edwardian glory. This is definitely a memoir where you end up wishing you’d met Marguerite for yourself and witnessing the way that she forged ahead of her time in many ways. But it also works as a rich and satisfying slice of social history too, giving you an insight into the chsnges that have been made in the way that famous women are regarded and the transient nature of fame too…

opened book

I ended up re-reading sections to myself as I found myself caught up in this vividly described world and going off to look up real events from its pages as I got so caught up in this period and time of real change. Non-fiction is definitely drawing me in this Spring and I’ll hopefully be sharing more of the memorable characters and places that I’ve ‘met’ through these reads as the month progresses

I totally recommend The Queen Of Romance and think you should definitely buy yourself a copy  If you haven’t yet got into memoirs, this might be a great place to start and I wholeheartedly recommend finding out all about this wonderfully interesting life through its pages

This lively and compelling biography reveals how Marguerite Jervis dealt in both illusion and self-delusion, and deftly unfolds the ways in which this apparently indefatigable novelist and owner of two theatre companies adopted multiple identities and kept reinventing herself, from London’s West End to West Wales. Angela V John

This eminently readable biography, meticulously researched, of the life and times of a largely forgotten but remarkable woman will now be her fitting epitaph.Lyn Ebenezer

Writer On The Shelf

Liz Jones writes drama and creative non-fiction, reviews, short stories and journalism ranging from Take a Break to New Welsh Review.

Along the way she has raised two daughters, tried to change the world, worked in a café-cum-bookshop, a housing association, in community development and lifelong learning.

She is now a Teaching Fellow at Aberystwyth University.

2 thoughts on “Queen of Romance

  1. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour and for such a great review – glad you enjoyed ‘Queen of Romance’ so much.


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