89-year-old Redbourn author’s first book took 45 years to complete

Marjory Rae Lewis

Marjory Rae Lewis - Credit: Archant

An emotive story, which the 89-year-old author started writing more than four decades ago, has been published as a book.

Marjory Rae Lewis, who lives in Redbourn, began penning Mission Paradise 45 years ago.

And her manuscript has now been taken up by New Generation Publishing and Marjory will be signing copies of it between midday and 1pm next Saturday, April 23, at Waterstones in St Albans.

Mission Paradise is based on her experience of meeting and having a love affair with Jean Cornez, who was shot dead by Germans during the Belgian Resistance in World War Two.

The pair met in London, when Marjorie’s mother took in young lodgers who were training to be parachuted into occupied Belgium for espionage.

Their mutual attraction was instant and they were together for a month before Marjory had to go back to school in Winchester. They wrote to each other every day and she still has the letters. They planned to marry but he was killed.

Her husband subsequently took her to Belgium, where she met Jean’s sister and was given his glasses wrapped in Belgian lace to keep.

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Irene Hughes, 64, of Saberton Close, Redbourn, contacted the Herts Advertiser because she felt the story truly deserved to be shared. She said:

“It was recommended to me by my hairdresser, Pauline in the village – who’s also Marjory’s hairdresser. I bought it from Amazon and read it and it is a really lovely book. I was so moved that I found out where she lives and took her a bunch of flowers.

“She showed me round her home and lots of mementos from that time, which are mentioned throughout the story. There was red dust on his glasses and she had never cleaned them. He was wearing them when he died. She has letters written on lavatory paper. They weren’t allowed writing paper but the prisoners bribed the guards to send them out.”

Widower Marjory is described as an active member of the Redbourn community who loves attending exercise classes and is a member of the University of the Third Age.

Irene, who has become good friends with Marjory since reading Mission Paradise, added: “She was nearly 16 and he was 27. Her mother was happy for them to be together. She went on to marry another man and had several children but she calls him her guardian angel and says he brought her husband to her. It’s a really interesting read and just a lovely story of first love.”