I’ll be giving a talk at the Marginalised Mainstream conference in November, about the various literary disguises of Evadne Price, and especially the novels she wrote under the pseudonym ‘Helen Zenna Smith’.
Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Manchester Guardian archive, to see whether they had reviewed her novels, and found a review of Not So Quiet… in the issue of April 24th, 1930.
It’s a pretty just assessment of the book’s literary qualities: ‘filled with a savage hatred of war’; ‘one of those books which haunt the mind of the reader’; ‘coarse language and insistence on physical detail’; ‘the bitterness in it is perhaps too heavily stressed’.
What is most interesting, though, is that the reviewer (‘M. A. L.’ Any ideas who that might be?) does not seem to know that the book was a novel, and certainly does not realise that the author was far too young to have served in the War:
The author was attached to a convoy under a domineering and heartless commandant…
I’ve got a nearly edition of the book (though it’s a Newnes reprint, not the Marriott edition reviewed in the MG). there is no indication inside the book whether it was a novel or a memoir. But my copy lacks a dustjacket. Does anyone have any ideas whether the original jacket actually labelled the book a novel? Or did Marriott, who was more than a bit of a chancer, deliberately make the book’s genre vague in order to improve sales by suggesting authenticity?