Inheritance Books: Susan Hughes

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

On Inheritance Books this week, we have the lovely Susan Hughes. Welcome to Inheritance Books, Susan. I’ve got scones with cream and jam (Rodda’s, naturally). Was that cream first? Or jam?

While I’m cracking the top of the clotted cream, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Sue Hughes image 1 1I grew up in the north of England and was both a bookish child and a bit of a tomboy.  I had scalextric, a go-cart and liked climbing trees but once the teenage hormones kicked in I became partial to garish nail polish, David Cassidy, unsuitable boys (according to my mother) and clothes which appalled my father. No one in my family had gone to university, so I thought I might. While it had little bearing on the direction my career took, I did meet my future husband there. I now live with him and my two sons in rural Devon. I started writing late in life, inspired by a WW1 postcard I found among my grandmother’s possessions, and now feel strangely bereft if I can’t sit down and write every day. Even if I re-write it all over again the next.

I recognise that – I was a Meccanno and Lego kind of girl, myself. Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?

2015-10-12 10.49.23‘American Notes and Master Humphrey’s Clock’ by Charles Dickens and ‘A Life of Dickens’ by Charles Forster in one volume, was given to me by my father-in-law. I should preface this by saying he was very much a man of his time (born c.1920) and that he and I have had some challenging discussions over the years about many things. This book belonged to his elder brother, Douglas. On its own, it’s a gorgeous book, beautifully bound in rich brown leather with a gold embossed school coat of arms on it and well kept. The Dickens section retells his experiences of his famous tour of America, followed by a short story which introduces some characters that later turn up in the ’Pickwick Papers’. The second section is a very brief biography of Dickens.

Inside the cover is an inscription plate, partly in Latin, which shows it was awarded to Douglas as a school prize in 1935-6.  By all accounts Douglas was the handsome, clever, golden boy of the family and a war hero who died young. He passed the entrance exam to attend a grammar school at a time when it was almost unheard of for a working class boy to do so in England. During WW2 he was feted as a pilot who flew Catalina boat planes. When my father-in-law gave this book to me I knew he was entrusting me with its safe keeping as someone who would appreciate its contents (I am a fan of Dickens’ novels) but also respect its provenance. I also knew this gift was an unspoken act of love and acceptance. That meant a great deal.

Wow. That is very special indeed. A family heirloom, no less. Which book (apart from A Life of Dickens) would you like to leave to future generations? Why? 

Difficult this one. Finally, I decided if I had to pick just one book to leave to future generations it would be Hans Fallada’s ‘Alone in Berlin’.  It tells the story of Otto Quangel, an ordinary citizen of Berlin during the Nazi regime.  When the book begins he has been keeping his head down, trying not to get noticed by any of Hitler’s henchmen, because to get noticed in such an oppressive environment could prove fatal.  The loss of his only son, fighting at the Front, and the devastating effect it has on his wife, brings about a profound change in Otto. He begins to leave anonymous postcards all over the city, criticizing the Fuhrer. Deep down he knows (and the reader knows) it is a small futile act – and one which carries the death penalty if he is caught – but to Otto, powerless otherwise, it is important that he feels he is resisting somehow. This book, as well as portraying a heart-stopping dangerous game of cat and mouse between Otto and the authorities, also bears witness to what it is to know one’s own mind and keep one’s integrity and humanity in the face of unfathomable evil.

What excellent choices. I’ll have to look up the Hans Fallada one for a historian I know, who would find it interesting…

Thank you for sharing your special books with us. Good luck with your own book.

A Kiss from France Cover Image2 1Susan’s book A Kiss From France is available now. You can find out more about Susan and her books by visiting her website.

Inheritance Books: Linda Chamberlain

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.

author picThanks 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?

IMG_3785I’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 Whispers 'Horse' hoarselygenerations. 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.

CoverLinda’s debut novel The First Vet is available on Amazon. You can read more about her and horses on her blog  ( or stalk her on Twitter (@lindyloocher)

Inheritance Books: Jenny Holiday

This week’s Inheritance Books are from Jenny Holiday. I ‘met’ Jenny on Twitter after following her @tropeheroine account. I do recommend you check it out.

Hi Jenny, welcome to Inheritance Books. Biscuit? Great. Please, tell us a bit about yourself.

JennyHoliday_web (2)Hi, I’m Jenny. I write romance novels. My first books were contemporaries, but I have a Regency series starting later this spring, which is a thrill for me because Regencies were my first love as a reader—I call them my romance gateway drug. I grew up in Minnesota, but graduate school brought me to Toronto, Canada, where I still live.

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

Mary Katharine Reely’s Seatmates (1949) is an account of her life as a girl (“Kate”) in Spring Green, Wisconsin. One of the girls in her class is Tottie, “the girl who had no name.” The story went that Tottie’s parents had not been able to agree on a name for her, so they just used her baby-nickname Tottie, and they were going to let her choose her own name when she was fifteen. The girl who had no name was, in fact, my great-grandmother, and everyone called her Tot her whole life, even though she eventually named herself Margaret. The book was a gift to my sister and me from my aunt. As a girl, I felt famous by extension—I was related to somebody in a book!—and I once took it to show and tell. I still pull it out and read it every couple of years.seatmates (1)

Which book would you leave for generations below you? Why?

I am unsentimental about objects and virtually all my reading these days is in ebook format, so I’m afraid I don’t have much that’s heirloom-worthy. I will, of course, pass down Seatmates. I’m also reading a book to my son that came from my childhood—The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter (1969), by Evelyn Scott. As you might imagine, it’s a story about fourteen bears. They have the usual bear-ish summertime adventures involving honey farming and swimming in the pond. Hibernation would seem to put an end to all this fun, but not for our bears! The baby of the family wakes up one winter day (so what they’re saying is this whole non-sleeping baby thing is an interspecies truth?), so the whole clan bundles up and heads out to experience winter. It’s a charming book full of details: each bear has her own house furnished to reflect her personality and decorates her own tree for Christmas. It’s been a hoot to watch my son take it all in.

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Jenny. All the best with your books.

41VorztEnWL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Jenny’s latest book Sleeping With Her Enemy is available to buy now. You can find out more about Jenny on her website, Facebook or on Twitter (@jennyholi). Do follow the @tropeheroine account. It’s hilarious.

Goodreads Book Review: Love, Eternally by Morgan O’Neill

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

A few weeks ago, I had to read some books as part of first round judging for a competition. These were all from sub genres that I wouldn’t normally read, so it was quite an interesting exercise for me. It made me realise that I’ve fallen into the trap of needing my reading to serve an extra purpose than just entertainment (I seem to need everything to do at least two things at once, these days). I read as part of my market research and learning process, so I read a lot of what’s published by my publisher (my first customer, in effect) and what’s coming out in my chosen genre of romantic comedy (see what everyone else is up to). After I’d finished my box of books and submitted my scores, I decided that I really should read more and read more widely. I haven’t set myself a firm goal of reading 52 books in a year, but that’s roughly what I’m aiming for.
I came across Morgan O’Neill when Deb and Cary did a joint Inheritance Books post for me. I have a theory that if I like someone’s ‘voice’ in real life, I’ll probably like their books. The Inheritance Books post the ladies did suggested that their writing voice was quick and fun. I finally made good on my mental note to read something by them and bought Love, Eternally.

This is a time-slip book, where Gigi from the present day is transported back to 400AD Ravenna. I know very little about that period, so I have no idea about historical accuracy, but the dialogue felt realistic (I hate it when historicals dialogue so anachronistic that even someone like me finds it irritating). Gigi is a spirited young woman, who does really well in a difficult set of circumstances. Magnus is very much an alpha male, but really quite sweet with it. You got to see the world from the points of view of several secondary characters, which gave a more rounded view of the complex political machinations that were going on around the main story. The storyline was strong enough that I wondered whether the time-slip element was really necessary, but I guess it does explain why Gigi is so different from the other women in the book.
I read this book very quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be reading more by Morgan O’Neill.

Inheritance Books – Annie Burrows

Hello Annie. Welcome to my blog. Tell me a bit about yourself.

 Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my favourite books, Rhoda.  I’m Annie Burrows, by the way, and nowadays I write light hearted Regency romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

I come from a family of bookworms.  Every Saturday, my parents would take me to the local library to select as many books as we were allowed to take home.  At Christmas, I always got an annual of some sort, and, more than even the stories and brightly coloured pictures, I remember the smell of them when first opened.  I suppose it was only printers ink and glossy paper, but to me it represented a whole new world of the imagination to explore.

I read a lot.   I mean A LOT.  I was quite a sickly child, but being stuck in bed was never much of a hardship because it was a brilliant excuse to read yet another fabulous story!


 Which book have you inherited from the generation above you?

 By the time I was about ten, I felt as though I’d read all the books in the children’s section of our rather small local library and began to plunder my parents’ bookshelves.  However, I can’t talk about one of those, because there is no way I would ever be able to prize one of their own precious books away from them.

Instead, I’m going to tell you about one of those that came in my bundle of Christmas presents.  “The Children of Green Knowe”, by L. M. Boston.  I’ve still got the battered copy on my bookshelf, and I will never part from it.  It would be like trying to say goodbye to some of my dearest friends.  It is one of those books that has everything: some adventure, some time travel, a bit of a mystery, and a creepy, overgrown tree that might come alive during the night and wander about the grounds of the massive old house where the main character has to stay without his parents.  I went on to read others in the Green Knowe series, but none of them set my imagination on fire quite like the first time Tolly meets his great – grandmother, and the mysterious, possibly haunted, house at Green Knowe.


 Which book will you leave to the generations below you and why?

 As for the book I would hand on to my own children – it is “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon.

Neither of my children have inherited my addiction to reading, but this one – oh, this one I managed to get them all to read right to the very end.  It is a remarkable book.  It is told through the eyes of a boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome.  And the writer has done a brilliant job of making the reader understand the frustrations of his family and carers, though the boy himself is puzzled by it all.  It manages to be both funny and extremely moving.

And boy, do I wish I could write like that!

I loved the Children of Green Knowe too  (although the children in the mirror freaked me out a little bit). They had copies in my school library and I raced through them.

Thank you so much for sharing your Inherited Books with me. Do come visit again soon!

Annie’s book His Wicked Christmas Wager is published by Mills and Boon.

You can find out more about Annie’s writing at her website: or “like” her at:

Inheritance Books – Donna Douglas

Today I have the lovely Donna Douglas telling me about her Inheritance Books.

Hi Donna, welcome to my blog. Tell me a bit about yourself:

Donna Douglas

Hello, my name’s Donna Douglas I’m the author of The Nightingale Girls, the first in a series of stories set in an East End hospital during the 1930s. I was born and brought up in south London, but 20 years ago I moved with my husband, daughter and cat up to the beautiful city of York (quite a departure for someone who’d rarely ventured north of the Thames).

I’ve always loved writing and making up stories, but never imagined an ordinary girl from Wandsworth could ever actually publish a book. Then I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme, which gave me the confidence to achieve my writing dreams. My first novel, Waiting in the Wings, was published in 2000.  I’ve since had eight contemporary romantic novels published under the name Donna Hay. But I’ve always been fascinated by the past, so when I was given the chance to create The Nightingale series, I jumped at it!

Which book did you inherit from the generation above? Why is it special?

I was brought up by my grandparents, and my grandmother was a huge influence on my life (the formidable Nanna Winnie in The Nightingale Girls is based on her). She was a typical working class matriarch who was determined that I should have the education and the chances she never had. She encouraged me to read, even though my grandfather disliked books in the house; we’d sneak off to the local library and borrow them in secret!

One book I particularly remember borrowing is A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce. It’s the story of a boy called Ben, who dreams of having a dog of his own. But his parents won’t allow it because they live in the middle of London. Just to make it worse, his grandparents send him a tapestry picture of a dog, a chihuahua, for his birthday. At first Ben is bitterly disappointed, until he begins to bring the dog to life in his imagination. A dog so small, you can only see it with your eyes shut…

I loved the book because it really spoke to me. Unlike the heroes and heroines of Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome, I could never go to boarding school or have exciting adventures on boats. My biggest adventure was a trip to King George’s Park. Like Ben, I lived in a cramped, overcrowded little London terrace with barely enough room for people, let alone dogs. I could totally understand his frustration, and willed him to achieve his dream!

It’s such a powerful book; while I was writing this I Googled it and found a clip of Judi Dench reading an excerpt on Jackanory. All these years on, it still almost made me cry!

Which book would you like to leave to future generations, and why? 

It was a toss-up between this and The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks, but I’m going to go for To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I must confess I hadn’t read this book until about ten years ago, but I’ve lost count of the times I read it since! It’s by no means a lengthy book, but it still packs a powerful emotional punch. It looks at racism through the eyes of a child, so it manages to get a very strong message across in a very simple way. I’d like future generations to read it to so they understand just how incredibly unfair, stupid and ignorant discrimination really is. As well as carrying a message, it’s also touching, warm and full of memorable characters. And forget Heathcliff and Mr Darcy – Atticus Finch is just about my perfect romantic hero!

Thanks very much for sharing your books with us, Donna. I must admit I’ve never read A Dog so Small. It sounds like a lovely book. I might have to hunt a copy down.

I love the cover of To Kill a Mockingbird. How cool to be able to put ‘over 11,ooo,ooo copies sold’ on the cover!

 You can find out more about Donna on her website , her blog, Facebook or Twitter.  (@donnahay1)

Donna’s new book The Nightingale Girls is out now.