Today’s Inheritance Books come from Christine Stovell who writes lovely romances for Choc Lit. Hi Chris, welcome to Inheritance Books. Tell me a bit about yourself.
Hi Rhoda, thanks very much for inviting me to share my inheritance books with you – I’ve really enjoyed thinking about these! I’m Chris Stovell, novelist and writer. I’m published by Choc Lit, I’m also a short story writer and I’ve contributed work to Honno Welsh Women’s Press. I’ve sailed half way round Britain and run four half marathons but I also like to start the day with a good old hula hooping session. I live and write on the coast of west Wales.
Gosh, just hearing about all that exercise makes me feel tired! The sailing explains why you set your first novel in a ship yard. Which book have you inherited from your parents/grandparents? Why is it special?
My dad was a carpenter, my mum a school cook. The hardships of their own upbringings meant that reading time was scarce and precious, so it was a luxury they very much wanted for me. I learned to read before I went to school, teaching myself from whatever comic Dad had bought for me when he collected the Sunday papers. Our house was full of books – to make up for what my parents had missed, I guess – and since neither of them believed in age-appropriate reading I could chose freely from their collection. I remember scaring myself silly with Dennis Wheatley’s The Haunting of Toby Jugg, deciding that the Harold Robbins paperbacks were possibly a bit grown-up for me and being utterly transported by Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki Expedition.
In later life, my dad became deeply interested in history, particularly military and political history. For a man with little in the way of formal education, he could immerse
himself in the weightiest tomes, many of which were birthday or Christmas gifts from me. So guess what I inherited after his death? Yep, these really are my inheritance books; pictured are just a few volumes in a whole library of Dad’s books that I’m struggling to read, but which will always be special as a reminder of the man who did so much to make me the reader and writer that I am.
My Dad had a copy of The Ra expeditions by Thor Hyerdahl. I wish I’d nicked it and read it now. Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
Wah! This is so difficult as there are too many to choose from so I’m going to have to cheat and squeeze a couple in. My something-for-everyone choice would be the Oxford Library of English Poetry for stimulation and inspiration. For parents of small children, I’d pass on Jill Tomlinson’s wonderful The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, the book that helped my elder daughter conquer her fear of the light being turned out. It’s hard to single out one novel because so many of my favourites are reminiscent of a particular moment in time and that’s certainly true of the one that, with some trepidation I’m going to pass on now.
One of the books on my parents’ shelves was an old copy of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. I was on the cusp of adolescence and already thinking about being a writer when I picked it up. Its incomparable opening sentence, ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ made me long to create a world, a location and characters equally evocative and compelling. Although the book’s initial appeal was due in part to reading it as a young girl wondering how it felt to fall in love, it’s Smith’s poignant insight into disappointment in life and love and the compromises we all have to reach that makes it a book worth returning to. I hope that my poor old copy, firmly claimed with my book stamp and sabotaged by my little sister, will bring as much joy to someone else in the future.
I love both those books. Having re-read The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark to my daughter, I’ve become reacquainted with it. I’d forgotten how wonderful an funny the characters are.
Thank you so much for sharing your Inheritance Books, Chris. I hope your new book zooms up the charts.
Chris’s latest novel is published on Choc Lit and is available from Amazon and other retailers. You can find out more about Chris on her website (www.christinestovell.com), her blog (
http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/) and on Twitter (@chrisstovell)
13 thoughts on “Inheritance Books – Christine Stovell”
Oh, I love that Owl book too – the little owl is just adorable! In fact, my younger daughter liked him so much that when she had to dress up as a fictional character for World Book Day at school one year, I had to make her an owl costume 🙂 Somehow, I managed …
You made an owl costume, Pia?? You are indeed a woman of many talents!
You carry on Chris. Sounds like I need to get your booklist for my daughter. We’ve just finished reading My Naughty Little Sister and went looking for Stig of the Dump. I’ve just ordered that and some copied of Teddy Robinson. I’m really excited. I LOVED Teddy Robinson when I was little.
The trouble is that my copies of those books went with the girls and now I want to read them again, so it looks as if I’ll be reordering them, too!
Thank you so much, Rhoda, for allowing me to share my inheritance books here – you know how much I’ve enjoyed doing this. Sorry about all the extra books I squeezed in, it’s just so hard to leave any old favourites out *thinks wistfully of ‘Stig of the Dump’ or ‘My Naughty Little Sister’*
I’m not familiar with The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark either. My two are possibly too old for it now, but bearing in mind neither of them will sleep without their bedroom light on, I might well give it a go. I left them in the car the other night to take back the supermarket trolley. When I returned my youngest (6) was beside himself because it was dark. Yet he’s fearless with so much else. A lovely interview, Chris,. What a great idea for a regular feature, Rhoda.
You’d be surprised at how long I carried on reading bedtime stories to my girls, Sarah and I’m not going to embarrass them by saying… except that it’s all getting a bit cosy now one’s married and the other’s engaged. (Sorry, girls – I am only teasing!). Isn’t this a great idea though? Looking forwards to seeing who’s next.
Oh – that’s why you have a waist! I have a hula hoop somewhere. I’m going to dust it off. But I bet I won’t be able to use it any more :-(. A great interview, Chris!
I tried to show my daughter how to hula and failed miserably. The return of my waist will have to wait…
It’s a bit like riding a bike – it’s one of those things you just have to ‘feel’, but once you’ve got it, it’s addictive!
Margaret – next time we meet we can do some synchronised hula hooping! And thank you!
I enjoyed reading about Christine’s background and choice of books. I am not familiar with The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – yet. It sounds as though I could share it with my youngest grandson so I shall give it a go. It is interesting to hear how our parents and families have influenced our lives, particularly with regard to writing.
Gwen, thank you so much for your time and your lovely comment. The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark really helped to assuage my daughter’s fears so I always think it fondly. Another breakthrough book for us (look away, Rhoda, I’m cheating again!) was the wonderful ‘Not Now Bernard’ by David McKee – a truly scary story which my daughters adored and was the key that unlocked the reading door for them.