The fight by women for the right to control their own lives and that of their children goes back centuries and goes on even now, says Durrington author Margaret I Holmes – a reflection which lies behind her new book The Contented Widow.
Published by Feedaread.com at £7.99, it is available on Amazon in paperback and as a kindle ebook.
Margaret, aged 80, said: “I am old enough to remember being legally helpless to have any say in my children’s education. Their father had that right. I did not. Even though I was working and earning a salary, my tax affairs were included in my husband’s and were sent to him. Exasperating to someone as independent minded as I am.
“In the Regency period, in which the book is set, women had even fewer rights unless they were widowed and wealthy.
“I decided to write about someone who faced these problems but in a way that was entertaining and left readers feeling cheerful and optimistic.
“I want to entertain and give people a feel-good experience.
“I have always used books and particularly history as a refuge and a solace, particularly when troubled or unhappy. Jane Austen’s and Georgette Heyer’s novels cheered and consoled me, very much as Stephen Fry said he found that did.
“Having read all of (their) entire output until I know them by heart, it seemed to me that there were not enough and that someone ought to remedy that.
“I decided that I would!
“I loved writing it and the previous book Westmarsh. Both are aimed at those who enjoy historical novels; Regency romances especially with a little mystery or danger in them and those who need cheering up and to escape from everyday worries.
“I have always written and told stories. I was writing short stories and articles some years ago and had a little success when my mother in Cheshire became ill.
“My husband here in Sussex was also ill and my daughter, who had a very young son, was going through a divorce.
“I also taught full-time! Writing had to take a back seat. Two years ago, I decided that now was the time to resume story telling. Stories unfold to me and are like movies playing in front of my inner eye.
“There will be other similar books but not with the same cast. There are too many other problems that women faced that I want to write about.
“My first novel published in 2018 was Westmarsh. It was also about a spirited young woman facing the restrictions forced on her by the male dominated society in which she lived. There is also a rather suave, sophisticated villain, who I thoroughly enjoyed writing about.
“A reader has asked me to write a novel in which he takes centre stage. I am considering that but there is also my feisty great, great grandmother at the other end of the Regency social spectrum who is clamouring to be written about.
“So many stories. So little time. I have had several short stories published online that are quite, quite different. A scary horror, one of betrayal and loss turned to anti-climax and a would-be murder. I enjoy being a little unpredictable in my short stories.
“I have always written from being a small child. I wrote for my cousins; I wrote for my friends. I won a prize for writing, aged ten, about going on an imaginary holiday.”