This week’s guest on Inheritance Books is Eleanor Harkstead. Hello Eleanor. Why don’t you take a seat on the Inheritance Books sofa and tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Eleanor Harkstead. I co-write romantic fiction with my friend Catherine Curzon. We’ve adventured into all sorts of genres: contemporary, historical, romcom, paranormal, romantic suspense… By day I’m a librarian. My interests include family history and the history of forensics.
Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
When I was about 8 or 9, my dad gave me a book that had been his favourite as a child. Now, my dad’s ambition was to be a lighthouse keeper, and to visit every RNLI lifeboat station in the country. He loves Douglas Reman’s WW2 naval adventures, so the book he gave me, and which I read very carefully because it was clearly precious to my dad, came as a surprise.
It was “The Family from One End Street” by Eve Garnett. And there’s very little nautical action in there at all.
The novel was first published in 1937, and it has gorgeous illustrations. The family struggle to get by, the children have adventures, and by the end of the novel, you feel like they’re your friends. Although the novel was almost fifty years old when I read it, it still had the power to enchant me as a reader because the characters, their adventures and their world were so realistic and engaging.
At the beginning of the story, the mum and dad have just seen John Singer Sargent’s painting “Carnation Lily Lily Rose” and they decide to name their daughters after it. And around the time I read the book, we went on a trip to the Tate (you won’t be surprised to learn we only had time for a quick jaunt round the galleries because we’d spent most of the day at the Boat Show in Earl’s Court) and I saw the painting in the flesh. The light from the lanterns in the painting seems to glow. It’s an astonishing artwork, and had an even greater effect on me as it came leaping out of a book at me too.
“The Family from One End Street” showed me that even though fiction comes from the imagination, it’s perfectly okay for it to be rooted in the real world too. And it gave me a glimpse into the world of my father’s childhood. Unfortunately, I don’t have the book anymore – I gave it back to my dad!
Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
My niece and nephew love books – they view them in the same way they do their toys, they’re sources of fun and amusement to them. I’d leave them Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch novels. They’ve been overshadowed by you-know-who, that wizard boy, but Mildred Hubble will always be my heroine. Those stories told me that even the kid who struggles, who’s awkward and odd, can triumph in the end, and that’s a powerful message for any child when they’re growing up and all at sea.
We love the books and the TV series in our house. Well met!
Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us Eleanor. All the best with your latest book.
You can find out more about Eleanor Harkstead and her books on her website, Twitter , Facebook or you can follow her on Bookbub (always a good idea!). Her latest book The Dishevelled Duke is available to buy now