The Death of Marigold Churchill

I‘m still working my way through the first volume of William Manchester’s 3-volume biography of Winston Churchill. I got almost no reading done while I was in L.A., but I resumed my reading yesterday, and am approaching the end of the first book.

Today, while on my morning walk, Churchill’s youngest daughter (at the time), died. Marigold Churchill was 2 years and 9 months old at the time of her death, and the descriptions of the scene, with her asking her mother to sing the popular tune “Bubbles” to her, brought a flood of tears to my eyes, making it almost dangerous to continue walking.

I’ve noticed more of a tendency toward tears when reading of the death of a child, ever since having children of my own. Indeed, knowing nothing of what Marigold Churchill looked like, other than the fact that she was not quite three, I had in my mind a picture of my own daughter, and how she smiles, and loves to sing songs. My own daughter, who is not quite three herself.

It is entirely possible that readers without children are moved in the same way by these passages, but before I had children, I wasn’t. It also possible, of course, that people with children aren’t moved to tears by passages like these. Everyone is different. But my heart retroactively ached for the Churchill’s and the loss of their little girl. And this, from a book. That writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, can produce these emotions is one of the things I love best about being a writer and a reader.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

3 thoughts on “The Death of Marigold Churchill

  1. I second that emotion. After the birth of our son and later a daughter, I remember beginning to read a mystery. Within the first 15 pages, a child is murdered. That was enough for me. The book was returned to the library unread.

  2. Do you think listening to an audio book rather than reading from a page adds to the emotion? Have you had the experience of listening to an audio book you have already read, or vice versa, and found any different reaction to the story? Listening to audio books is relatively new to me so I am interested in how other people find the difference in media changes how they interact with the subject.

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