Today on the Inheritance Books sofa, we have Sam Russell. Hi Sam, make yourself at home. Why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I was born in London but grew up in a rural Essex village, with the freedom to run free. Idyllic childhood is a cliché, but it was absolutely that – an Enid Blyton adventure with a gaggle of village children beside me, and I have no doubt that it was our outdoor life which fostered my love of the countryside.
As an adult I trained and worked as a riding instructor. I lived overseas for a while, then came home and married a farmer. Thirty-two years later and we’re still farming together. Our three children have grown up and moved out of the farmhouse now but we’ve still got the dogs, a geriatric cat and an aged pony in the paddock. (I watch him through the window when I’m writing.)
Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
My special, inherited book is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I adored this book as a child. My mum bought it for me. She was, and still is, a genius at finding exactly the right book for the moment. The story of Maria enchanted me and Elizabeth Goudge gifted a magical world where all my passions combined: A plucky heroine, adventure, wonderful characters and a pony thrown in for good measure! There might be a theme developing here…
The copy shown in the picture is actually an exact replacement of the book I originally owned. The original having been eaten by a Welsh goat many years ago! My favourite books travelled with me when I was a kid, and on a family holiday I stacked them on a shelf next to the window. That pesky goat stuck his head through the window and ate the lot! I was inconsolable! We didn’t have a lot of money going spare back then, but Mum sourced and replaced every single book in that goat-chewed collection and I treasure them all to this day.
Which book would you leave for future generations? Why?
It’s so much harder to decide which book I would leave for future generations. Fiction is so personal, and there are too many brilliant titles to choose from. I considered bequeathing the volumes of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, for the sheer inspiration of her joy and talent in the face of adversity, but then I noticed the books I’d kept since my children were babies, and nostalgia won the day.
Once There Were Giants by Martin Waddell and Penny Dale is an exquisite children’s book. Holding it in my hands again takes me straight back to curling up with a little person and reading bedtime stories. And that little person is completely absorbed. It was ‘the book of the moment’, because it told the story of their lives, with warm illustrations and sympathetic words:
I would like to think that Once There Were Giants will pass to my grandchildren when the time comes, and that it will give them the same pleasure it gave to my children.
Maybe I’ll be lucky, and I’ll be the grandma with a little person curled on my lap absorbed in the story, because what I would most like to leave to future generations is the absolute joy of reading. (Amen to that! R)
The copy in the photography is worn and water-curled. I believe it survived the bath!
Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Sam. Best of luck with The Bed of Brambles.