This week’s Inheritance Books are from Linda Chamberlain.
Hi Linda, welcome to Inheritance Books. Can I get you anything? Tea? Cake? Chocolate biscuit? While I’m getting that, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me here Rhoda (my pleasure) but I’m immediately uncomfortable because I’m going to have to talk about Me. There’s one person I hate talking about and that’s myself. It’s not that I’m boring or haven’t done anything, loving these biscuits by the way, it’s just that I would much rather talk about you, the weather or what’s in the papers. With such a personality, it had to be journalism after leaving school – a job that gives you a notebook and a licence to knock on doors and ask anything you like. Rarely does anyone ask about the interviewer so it was the perfect career for 20 years or more.
Children make careers awkward, which is fine because that’s their job, and so this mum turned to writing fiction and playing with horses. Besides my family, they are my twin passions. So now I blog and campaign about the way horses are treated and I’ve published my debut novel The First Vet. It’s a story of love and corruption and has everything in there that I care about. Did I mention that it’s very romantic and people tell me they can’t put it down when they want to go to bed? They also love that it’s inspired by a historical figure, Bracy Clark – the man who led the first horse into the newly opened Veterinary College in 1793.
That sounds fascinating. I love the name Bracy (makes a note). Which book have you inherited from generations above? Why is it special?
I’m glad you asked me this and don’t let me eat any more of those chocy biscuits although I could take an oatcake for the horse at home! My inheritance book is something my dad gave me. It’s called Universal Knowledge A-Z and is a little encyclopaedia. There’s nothing remarkable about it but his name is written inside and dated 1938 and it also has my childish scrawl underneath his in joined-up writing but with no date – so through this book we are still connected even though he has passed away. I used the book throughout school and I still use it to this day but more for fun and to annoy my children. It’s got everything in it – so long as it happened before 1938. Neville Chamberlain, no relation, was Prime Minister but hadn’t yet cried ‘Peace in our Time’ thereby ruining his reputation for appeasing Hitler. The entry for Chauvinism is beautifully historic and informative for example. The word comes from a French soldier of that name who served Napoleon with blind devotion. In the 1930s the word chauvinism indicated an extravagant zeal for the glory of one’s country and had nothing to do with attitudes of men towards women. I guess male chauvinism was the norm. I used to love getting out Universal Knowledge every time one of my children asked an obscure question; it was a time for family bonding over dinner and the answer often threw up more questions than it solved.
Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?
This can’t be a book that I simply enjoyed. It has to be something worthy for future generations. So I give you The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. It became a best seller in the 1990s. I was a young mum, managing to make time occasionally for horse riding. But the horse world was going crazy with new ideas. Instead of ‘breaking’ horses so they could be ridden people like Monty Roberts were fighting for them to be ‘started’ in a kinder way. He was one of the new breed of whisperers and so Evans’s book became a best seller against that background. It’s still in print and worth reading whatever you like to do in your spare time. My own copy is battered and discoloured but has a few reads left in it. The book and the people who inspired it made such an important contribution to how we care for horses and should be listened to. The book still moves me – it’s a reminder of what can happen when these sensitive animals are treated badly and it shows what rewards we can reap when we connect with them respectfully. It’s a battle that I’ve joined to some extent. My blog is about keeping horses naturally and by that I mean remembering how they have evolved and how they would live if we didn’t fence them in and ride them. So The Horse Whisperer is a book that should stay with us.
Thank you for sharing you favourite books with us, Linda. All the best with the First Vet.