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.
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.
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!