Whilst writing the story of “Marguerite,” it crossed my mind to wonder just how fortunate are the children of the 21st century, relative to those of a bygone age? These days, a child’s place within the family is celebrated by parents who strive to structure their time and resources around an offspring’s needs and desires.


During the 19th century, a girl such as Marguerite spent a sheltered childhood almost entirely isolated from the outside world, and was expected to conform to a restricted lifestyle. Unlike this far-from-usual girl, who appalled her family by dressing like a boy to race about her father’s estate on a horse. Nevertheless, she – as other girls of aristocratic status – was viewed as little more than a chattel to be disposed of at will or for the advancement of the family.


Claire, Marguerite’s eldest daughter, fared little better. Extrovert and headstrong, she was frequently in trouble for flouting her mother’s insistence that she adhere to the rigid social mores of the day. Every move the girl made was supervised, criticised, her attire inspected for suitability by a stern, eagle-eyed mother. Even her eventual husband was the choice of Marguerite de Merencourt, an alliance ultimately proving disastrous for the naïve young girl. It was to colour her view of the world in years to come.


During the early forties, Susanna knew an enviable early childhood. Allowed a freedom unknown to the children of yesteryear, she spent much of her time rock climbing on the beach with friends, falling out of trees, returning home at an appointed hour with grazed knees, filthy, happy and healthy. Lurking sexual predators were simply not part of the equation. She, as most other children of her time, were required to learn the lessons of life, to take responsibility for their own actions, accept occasional failure to succeed, respect their elders and behave in an acceptable manner.


No “canned’ entertainment existed in those far-off days. The most sophisticated item for rainy days was a compendium of games containing cards to play snap, a box of tiddlywinks, and boards for draughts or snakes and ladders. Story-books and annuals were precious items, most children being able to read and write from an early age. Gymnastics, cross-country runs and sport in schools were mandatory if generally unpopular, therefore child-obesity was an unfamiliar concept despite jam sandwiches at tea-time.


Are our children any freer, happier or healthier than Marguerite, Claire or Susanna? Now that childish pleasures of yesteryear have been obliterated by a plethora of violent digital games, i-pads, mobile phones, and must-have toys relating to television productions? Discipline being regarded as a dirty word, what of school-teachers hesitant to curb unacceptable behaviour for fear of legal retribution by outraged parents, or losing their job? Generations of children leaving school almost illiterate, some incorrectly labelled as “special needs?” What of the daily bombardment against the evils of bacteria, skin cancer, cyber-bullying, self-harming, junk food and anorexia…whilst once-everyday sports and games are suppressed in the name of ’ealth ‘n safety?


Despite the constraints of past generations, I sadly shake my head…




  1. Thom Reece
    Apr 19, 2014

    Great background article for your wonderful story, “Marguerite” .

    I have taken the liberty to use your article as the lead story in the current issue of Book Marketing Journal, our free online newspaper.

    Keep up the wonderful work and you have my personal wishes for your continued success.

    Thom Reece

  2. Lisl
    May 11, 2014

    So do I, Carol, so do I. It is extremely sad how children of today have to navigate around a world of pretend, in the sense that so many grown ups fail (or worse, refuse) to teach them how to fail, how to play games and accept criticism without everything being “offensive” and requiring laws and rules and banning everything to avoid such an outcome.

    The good news is that some of even young children today *are* being taught this stuff, without having to accept life as it was during Marguerite’s day–a sort of happy medium. Also young parents are starting to recognize that a lot of this silliness (prizes for everyone, etc.) just doesn’t teach anybody to face or operate successfully in the real world.

    Hopefully their influence will spread quickly and we can find that happy medium!


  3. ecmooreauthor
    Sep 23, 2014

    I am so glad I found your lovely website and blog! Can’t wait to read your books.

  4. Elaine
    Sep 24, 2014

    makes me glad I never had kids!

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