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.
http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/) and on Twitter (@chrisstovell)