A Distant Drum
(Writing as Marguerite Bell)
Fanny Templeton, a young widow, is anxious about her stepdaughter's marriage to penniless Freddie March. She travels with her employer, Lady Mapleforth, to a chateau near Nice, just as Napoleon escapes from Elba. Fleeing to Brussels, Fanny meets up again with Lord Ordley, March’s elder brother. His previous hostility dissipates and they fall in love. At the Duchess of Richmond's ball he gives Fanny a ring. The allies win at Waterloo, but Ordley is wounded. He is nursed back to health by Fanny before the pair return to England via Brussels. It is then that Fanny begins to wonder if she has made a terrible mistake . . . .
Author biography:Ida Pollock was born near London in the spring of 1908. At the age of 10 she knew that she wanted to be a writer, and within a few years some of her stories were in major magazines. As a result, she met a variety of interesting figures, among them Major Hugh Pollock, then Book Editor at George Newnes, but ambition and other factors were driving her to the edge of a breakdown. Travelling alone to Morocco, she glimpsed the desert and the Atlas mountains before returning home, cured, to embark upon a secretarial course.
Jobs in Harley Street and Wimpole Street were followed by a stint at the Law Society, and as World War II broke out she stayed on, working through the Blitz, until a chance encounter with Hugh Pollock turned her life round again. Back in the Army, Hugh had been appointed Commandant of a school for Home Guard officers, and feeling Ida should be out of London he offered her a post as civilian secretary. She accepted, and as the months went by their relationship intensified. In May 1942, Hugh was sent overseas and Ida came close to being killed by a bombing raid, but following Hugh’s divorce he and Ida were married in October 1943. Soon they had a daughter and as the war ended life looked like settling down.
Hugh had problems, many of them financial, and Ida plunged back into literary work. Before long she had five publishers, multiple pen-names (including Susan Barrie, Rose Burghley, Marguerite Bell, Averil Ives, and Pamela Kent) and readers spread across the world. With her family she travelled widely, living in many parts of England and several different countries, and also took to painting in oils. In 2004 one of her paintings was chosen for inclusion in a national exhibition.
In 1971 Hugh died in Malta, and around the same time Ida took a long look at her career. A year or so earlier five of her Regency novels gained an enthusiastic response and from then on she concentrated upon period fiction. She moved to Cornwall and died at the advanced age of 103, leaving behind over a hundred highly successful novels.