Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Passion and Poison: The Story of Ivy

All at once she heard sounds just behind her - the sounds made by slippered, shuffling feet.

Filled with a sudden shock of sick terror, she turned slowly round to see Roger Gretorex's old charwoman, Mrs. Huntley, standing uncertainly in the middle of the room.

The woman had evidently let herself in from the back alley with a latchkey. But how long had she been there? And how much had she seen?

Have you ever, while reading a book, felt that you were sitting on a precipice and that at any moment you might fall off the edge? Your stomach is tied up in knots and your nerves stretched to breaking point and you simply want to scream for that might bring relief?

Reading The Story of Ivy, I felt exactly that. The story - that of a femme fatale who brings death and destruction - is nothing new. But there is a sinister undercurrent running through out the book which makes you feel that something horrible is about to occur any minute now - next line, next page, next chapter...

Briefly, the story is that of a young, beautiful woman called Ivy - once compared in the narrative to George Romney's portrait of Lady Nelson, spinning -  who married easy going, laid-back, idler, Jervis Laxton for his money. Now having, run through his fortune, she is terrified of the poverty-stricken days that lie ahead. Acting on an impulse, she goes to a fortune-teller who predicts that soon a stranger will enter her life bringing a lot of money. However, the fortune-teller also talks of an ominous event occurring which might blight her life forever. The choice is hers.

Ivy wonders about this stranger and realises it might be the multi-millionaire Miles Rushworth whom she is in the process of enticing so that he may offer, Jervis, a job in his financial empire. And since Ivy is somebody who wants not only money but also devotion, she is having an affair with the earnest Roger Gretorax, a doctor who worships the very grounds she walks on.

Ivy is able to seduce Miles Rushworth who not only offers her husband a job but also shows his willingness to marry her. But there is one catch. Rushworth had promised his father that he'd never break-up a marriage and he intends keeping it. "If only you were free.." he exclaims in agony. Now Ivy has to get herself free but Jervis will not hear of a divorce. Poor Ivy, doesn't have much of a choice, does she? And arsenic is so handy...


Looked for the historical period the novel depicts and found references to Jervis fighting in the first world war. Also Ivy's friend has a former lover who is in the British army in India.


Opening Lines: "Tell me something about the Lextons, Mary. Where did you pick them up?"

Title: The Story of Ivy

Author: Marie Belloc Lowndes

Publication Details: London: Heinemann, 1927

First Published: 1927

Pages: 319

Trivia: Made into a movie in 1947, titled Ivy.

Other books read by the same author: None


Book(s) with similar theme(s)

Double Indemnity


Copies of the book may be available in libraries. I borrowed it from a local library too.


Submitted for the Romance Category in the Borrowed Books Challenge

And also the following challenges:

British Books, Color Coded, Criminal Plots II, Merely Mystery, Mystery and Suspense, New Authors, Support Your Local Library, Vintage Mystery


The portrait of Emma Nelson by George Romney is from Kate Davies' beautiful blog needled. Do check it out for some beautiful patterns and writing.


  1. I'm not familiar with this one. I do have Lowndes's book The Lodger sitting on my TBR pile, though.

  2. Do read this one Bev. It's written really well. I am reading another one of hers too: The End of Her Honeymoon.

  3. There are a few of her books available on Kindle, but not this particular one.

  4. Kerrie, some of her works are in the public domain. Am happy to have discovered a new interesting author. I rate this one very high.