Inheritance Books – Heather Ashby

Heather AshbyThis week’s Inheritance Books post is from Heather Ashby, writer of military themed romance (men in uniform! Oh yeah!)

Hi Heather, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Navy veteran and retired teacher who spends her days writing Navy romance novels to entertain our women at sea—and those civilians who would like to vicariously join the Navy without doing a single pushup. The four novels in my “Love in the Fleet” series are my gifts back to the military for the safe return of my Army son from Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002-2004.

Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why it is special?

Your invitation to write a blog about an Inheritance Book could not have come at a better time, as I await the imminent birth of my first grandchild. I am passing the time and honoring family by re-reading a treasured book that was passed down to me. My great-grandmother, Eva Hansen Lamb, wrote and published The Dutchman’s Daughter in 1894. The cover is non-descript, so I photographed the cover page and the map of “Holland.” Oma wrote  a series of books at the end of the nineteenth century in order to feed her family of six after her husband was injured in an industrial accident.

IMG_3537 The book is about a mother and her teen-aged daughter, who is intolerant of the poor, immigrant, scholarship girl at her posh private school. The mother—who remembers her own days as a poor, new, immigrant girl from Holland—strives to impart both family history and respect for all people to her daughter. I find some of the writing dreary as compared with today’s fast-paced novels, but the idea that my great-grandmother penned the words and used the names of her four daughters—and what would some day be my mother’s name—sucks me in every time I read it! And out of the blue, Oma used vocabulary that delights me. Who would think of writing the word, “stick-to-it-ive-ness” in 1894?

As I re-read the book, I thought it appropriate to use my grandmother’s (the author’s eldest daughter -1887-1970) Victorian bookmark. It is a sterling silver heart, bordered with hearts and vines and the following words embossed in the center: “Keep A thought for me in Your Heart.” Her monogram, ML—for Marietta Lamb—appears in fancy engraving on the reverse. The center of the heart is raised, so it can slip over the page.

I will take both the book and bookmark to my daughter’s when I fly to Chicago to welcome my grandson into the world. It’s time to give her a copy of The Dutchman’s Daughter, that she will pass on to one of her children. How special that Oma’s dedication reads, “To the grandparents of my children.” When she wrote that, little did she know that someday her great-granddaughter would be reading it while awaiting the birth of Oma’s great-great-great grandson.

 How wonderful to be able to pass on a book actually written by someone in your family! That’s brilliant.

Which book would you pass on to generations below? Why?

I will also pass on my all-time favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This was the book I read as a pre-teen that hooked me on reading. Being ADHD, I had spent my childhood outside creating the kinds of adventures others read about in books—and the kind that Scout, Jem, and Dill experience in TKAM. My sister and I grew up in our own world of make-believe in an artist colony complete with artisans, a magical woods, creek, and outdoor theater.BookFront

I only allow myself to re-read TKAM every five years because I practically have it memorized. But each time I open it, I picture Scout and Jem standing at the bridge over the magical creek where I grew up. They wait for me, reaching out their hands to take me across the creek, back into the story. No matter how old I become, they remain the same age. Dressed in their overalls—and looking decidedly like the actors in one of the only movies that did the book justice. Like Peter Pan, they never grow older. They remain the same age and never leave that Depression-era steaming hot Alabama summer, filled with adventures and Boo Radley.

Besides the magical coming-of-age element to TKAM, I am drawn to the theme of a parent instilling values in his children to help them understand—and never to be a part of—prejudice. Do you see a pattern forming? Both books that I’ve detailed here are about parents teaching their children to not judge others. To understand tolerance, walking in another’s shoes, and to show respect for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, or anything else besides “the content of their character.”

Qualities I instilled in my own children and qualities that I know they will instill in theirs—just as soon as those children are born.

 Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Heather. And best wishes to your daughter and her baby!

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You can find out more about Heather on her website (www.Heatherashby.com), on Facebook or by chatting to her on Twitter (@HAshbyAuthor). Heather’s book Forgive and Forget is available on Amazon now.

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39 thoughts on “Inheritance Books – Heather Ashby

  1. Heather Ashby says:

    Thanks so much for inviting me to share on Inheritance Books this week, Rhoda. It’s an awesome blog and I look forward to reading other writers’ stories about the special books that have been passed on to them. And the ones they will pass on to future generations. Write on, Rhoda!

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  2. smitgang says:

    Heather, I believe “stick-to-it-ive-ness” runs in your family! Little did Eva know her great-grand daughter would follow with a series of her own. What an inspiration your “Oma” is to us all. Such rich literary heritage!

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  3. Ruth Monheit says:

    Loved this. Visited Oma a few times on Durham St. Although bedridden, we had a bit of conversation. Wish L. had shown me the book, but glad you have it and Tasha and Mack will.

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      How lovely to hear from you, Ruth. To those readers following this conversation, this is my dear, dear, “Aunt Ruth,” my late mother’s best friend of over 70 years. Ruth is a connection for me because she actually KNEW my great-grandmother, “Oma.” I am so, SO touched to hear from you today, Ruth, and so blessed to still have you in my life. (And so impressed that you use the Internet 🙂 Bless you and thank you for being such a lovely part of my family’s – and my – life.

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      • Rhoda Baxter says:

        Gosh. Thank you for popping by and taking the time to comment, Ruth. I bet you didn’t think you’d be discussing your friend’s book with strangers on the internet so many years on!

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  4. Ruth Monheit says:

    I really got goosebumps reading this! I visited with your Oma a few times in the house on Durham street. She was bedridden at the time, but was still able to carry on a bit of conversation about what Louise and I had been doing that day d

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      And I get goosebumps reading your comments, Ruth! As I re-read Oma’s book, while waiting for the baby to be born, I kept thinking: She lived in the 19th Century and my grandson will touch the 22nd Century. Wow. And you will always be family to me. Hugs.

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  5. suzanne says:

    Heather..thank you for sharing this lovely story. Your great grandmother was certainly ahead of the times…Such a treasure to pass it on to your grandson.

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  6. Tammy Baumann says:

    Great story, Heather. I especially liked this part: “Both books that I’ve detailed here are about parents teaching their children to not judge others. To understand tolerance, walking in another’s shoes, and to show respect for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, or anything else besides “the content of their character.””

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      This was always a theme that played through in my classroom when I was a teacher too. So many good children’s book revolve around this theme. Wouldn’t it be nice it it played through the world? BTW, I saw the coolest bumper sticker the other day. It said, “God bless everybody – no exceptions.” Thanks for making TWO efforts to comment, Tammy 🙂

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  7. Jean Willett says:

    What a treasured part of your past! Thanks for sharing. My grandmother penned a book that I have. While it’s not published, she loved a great story and shared that love with me.

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      Wow, Jean, how awesome to have your grandmother’s book!!! And how lovely that she shared her love of reading and writing with you. See, this “writing stuff” is in your blood. Write On!

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Meg. Most of us have some kind of family treasures tucked away, but we get so busy we forget. I thought the imminent birth of the next generation was the perfect time to go back and revisit my roots. Especially with my own books coming out this year. That was very special. I’m curious as to the family treasures my readers have. How about you?

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      • Heather Ashby says:

        Lovely, Rhoda. I’m sorry I didn’t ask that question at the end of the blog: What family treasure do you have that is special in your life? How nice to have that connection with your grandfather and Mum. It just somehow feels special when you put on those earrings, doesn’t it. I worry that in this fast-paced day and age, people don’t take the time to appreciate those special things and moments in their lives. I’m glad you do 🙂

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  8. Kathleen Bittner Roth says:

    Great blog/story Heather! Wow, I had never thought of a woman in the 1800’s penning stories to feed her family! That was one brave woman. You write in part as a thank-you for your sons coming home safely. I write in part as a tribute to my mother who had a secret desire in her heart to be a writer, but didn’t have the courage so she encouraged me. Bless you!

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  9. Catherine says:

    How special to have a writer in the family! I LOVE that bookmark, and what a beautiful message to impart over a hundred years ago! Similar to the message in TKAM, don’t you think?

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      I had no idea that the two stories had a similar theme until I started writing this post. Then I got goose bumps! Interestingly, respect for diversity was always one of the most important themes in my classroom when I was a teacher. And I hadn’t thought of the message on the bookmark as going along with the theme too. *more goose bumps* Thanks for pointing that out!

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  10. Heather Ashby says:

    Thanks for inviting me, Rhoda. What a delightful blog, where people can share those treasured books passed down to them – and those they will pass on. Thanks for letting me share my special books. I need to update this post and share that grandson arrived safely and I look forward to sharing many books with him over the years!

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    • Rhoda Baxter says:

      Congratulations on the birth of your grandson!
      I love hearing about people’s favourite books, especially if they have a fabulous story like yours. It’s wonderful to think that you’re reading words written by your great grandmother so long ago. It must feel as though she’s talking to you directly across the years.
      Thank you for sharing this lovely story with me. I feel honoured.

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      • Heather Ashby says:

        “It must feel as though she’s talking to you directly across the years.” That’s EXACTLY how it feels, Rhoda! I get shivers sometimes reading some sentences that I sense were written just for me! Thanks for putting it into words and thanks for having me on your awesome blog.

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      Thanks, Kay. I feel the same way about her writing AND that I have 2 copies – one for each of my children. The books are a little worse for the wear, but surely that’s from being enjoyed for so many years. Thanks for visiting. I hope your writing is going well.

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  11. Cynthia E. Blain says:

    Heather, I truly loved this interview/blog. What a treasure you have in your book written by your great grandmother. That is just so special. I love to learn something new about an author every time I read a blog or interview, and this one didn’t disappoint me. Wonderful getting to know my favorite authors. Thank you.
    Cynthia

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    • Heather Ashby says:

      Thank you, Cynthia. You are always so delightfully supportive. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. And, yes, I do feel very blessed to have this treasure in my hands AND the knowledge that she published books in a time when it was rare for women to do that. Always good to see you, Cynthia.

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