Friday, October 23, 2015

MY INHERITANCE (!) by Muriel Jensen

I've never inherited anything.  I come from a wonderful blue collar family who just made it from month to month with a lot of laughter, but not a lot of money.   Ron inherited a small amount of money from his mother and, of course, he shared it with me, but that was his inheritance and not mine.

About six weeks ago, I received a lovely shock!  A box  arrived by UPS from Mullica Hill, New Jersey.  I've never heard of it either.  The box was very heavy.  I ripped it open, sure it had to be some kind of mistake,  It wasn't.  The note atop the tight stack of books began, "Dear Muriel."

FLASHBACK:  I've mentioned before that between my two writing careers, I worked for an accounting office for seven years.  There were several partners involved, and one in particular was great fun because he'd been in a rock band, had bit parts in a couple of movies, but had now settled down to life in Astoria.   I loved that he read Variety, knew who was married to whom in Hollywood, what they were really like in person.

His wife, who visited the office now and again, was as interesting as he was because she'd been in his rock band and now taught accounting at the community college.  One summer, her aunt came to visit.  My desk was in the reception area, so she and I chatted while she waited for her niece to be ready to go home.  She was a tall, elegant lady in her late seventies named Mary Rose. I'm not sure whether she did it, or I did it, but the topic came around to books.  We talked and laughed for half an hour over our mutual love for Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer
Then my boss and his wife appeared to take Mary Rose to lunch and then home, and I never saw or heard from her again.

Until her Georgette Heyer collection appeared on my doorstep.


The note was from her niece, saying that Mary Rose remembered meeting me and felt that we'd forged a bond over those Regency period books.  She wanted me to have her collection.  As I write this, it makes me cry again.  Who cares about money and power when you can inherit someone's magic coach ride to another time and place?  When they've lived a lifetime, and remember you?

I have 29 books.  I don't think it's a complete collection but some are so old that spines have been taped together, and one of the books sold for 30p (whatever that is) in  England in the 50s.



On the back of Devil's Cub, her first book, is a brief biography.  "Georgette Heyer was born in England in August, 1902.  Educated at numerous high-class seminaries, she did not go to college nor did she pass Matriculation or any other kind of examination.  She wrote her first novel when she was seventeen, and published it at the age of nineteen, in 1921."  (Hard not to hate her for that.)

It goes on to say she married, accompanied her husband to East Africa, then went to Yugoslavia.  They had a son, born in 1932.  "She is an omnivorous reader and among fiction writers her special preferences are Jane Austen, Thackeray, George Meredith, Rudyard Kipling, W. W. Jacobs.  If she were condemned to pass the rest of her life on a desert island with the works of only one novelist available, she would choose Jane Austen."

As fate would have it, I've been plotting a mainstream book about an author who makes the change from contemporary romance to Regencies and I'd begun reading the library's copy of Bath  Tangle by Georgette Heyer to get reacquainted with the language and manners.  And now the period is all around me, on my desk, on the edge of the futon, on my printer, and in an organized pile on my bookcase - where there really isn't room for anything else.  Except George Heyer - who was willed to me by Mary Rose.




37 comments:

  1. What a great story, and a great inheritance!

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  2. Muriel, if you weren’t already an author, I’d encourage you to become one!

    You put it beautifully, when you wrote: “Who cares about money and power when you can inherit someone's magic coach ride to another time and place? When they've lived a lifetime, and remember you?”

    For you to be remembered in this way reinforces something I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten to know you a little over the past couple of years: you’re a remarkable person, and clearly have a profound and lasting impact on people!

    Treasure and enjoy your inheritance!

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  3. Kate! Bless you for being that brilliant author/engineer who can add the photos to someone else's blog and make them look as though they know what they're doing. Thanks so much for your help with this - and so late at night for you! I am loving my inheritance. Happy weekend!

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  4. What a lovely story. Imagine making such a fantastic first impression on Mary Rose so that she sent you her collection. Best of luck in writing your new story. It sounds as though it will be a total pleasure trip for you.

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    1. I'm thinking I should reread all the books first to completely immerse myself. He, he. Thank you, Marion.

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  5. I think you should name your heroine Mary Rose.

    I've never read Georgette Heyer. I guess I need to so when I come to visit we can talk and laugh aplenty.

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    1. Brilliant idea about the name! I've already changed it twice, so that's the answer! I'm already on the porch, watching for you. Happy weekend, Pam.

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  6. Oh, I had chills reading this post, Muriel. I can't begin to imagine your feelings when you opened that box. What a special connection you made that day in the reception area. Great story!

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    1. Hi, Jill. It truly was a special moment, particularly since I was so convinced it was some mistake. Pays to be a chatty person.l Happy Weekend.

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  7. Muriel, what a story. I love this connection through books. I have a story about a WWII woman I met, but I'll keep it for a while. Let yours make us all cry for happy.

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    1. So, your story next time you blog? Isn't it wonderful how reading puts you head-to-head with that writer, so that when someone else loves that author, too, you feel as though you share a friend. Have a great weekend, Shirley.

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  8. What an amazing story. You must have made some impression to have her remember you all that time and entrust you with her beloved books. She knew they'd have a good home.

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    1. Hi, Beth. I'd like to think it was me, but more realistically, it was that we both loved this wonderful author and, as you said, Mary Rose felt she could entrust her books to me for that reason. Enjoy the weekend!

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  9. This is such a special gift! I remember the Grand Sophie (one of my favorites of hers).

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    1. Yes, it is! I believe that's everybody's favorite and one of her best sellers! Happy Weekend, Mel.

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  10. Now that's an awesome inheritance!! How lovely to be thought of as a caretaker for these wonderful books. <3

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    1. I thought so, too. I feel honored. Thanks, Anna!

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  11. What a lovely story, Muriel! You are so lovely as well so it's no surprise she passed on those books to you!! Good luck with your next novel! xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Amy. Sometimes lovely surprises just live with you and warm you daily.

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  12. What an incredible story and gift, Muriel...both the book collection and the fact that she remembered you. You were kindred spirits and it only took a few moments of conversation to touch each other's lives forever.

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    1. Isn't that remarkable? You just never know what the next encounter will bring you, or garner from you. Reminds you to try a little hard to connect. Thanks, Rula!

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  13. Well, Muriel. Congratulations. You've done it again. Brought me to tears with a blog post - a happy one. I am so moved. This story belongs in a book! Meanwhile, I can't wait to read the one you're working on.

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    1. That book's been on the sidelines for a couple of years, but I think its time has come. Hopefully, Mary Rose will see the light of day again. Happy weekend, Carol!

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  14. And what if your new heroine Mary Rose got a box of books from someone she met so briefly yet bonded with for life?? I'm with Carol. As soon as I reached the part of your post where you received the Heyer collection, I burst into tears. This is so touching. Beautifully told. I think your new book is going to write itself, Muriel! I certainly hope so.

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  15. Leigh, thank you so much! It was such a wonderful thing to have happened to me, and while I hadn't seen or heard from Mary Rose in right or nine years, the box of books brought her back to me as though she'd delivered them herself. What a gift! Happy weekend!

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  16. That was an amazing story. What a treasure; receiving a load of books by a favorite author from a brief acquaintance, and being remembered for an inspiring conversation. A gift I'm sure you'll never forget.

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    1. You're absolutely right, Laurie. I'm still amazed every day that that happened. Happy weekend!

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  17. Forgot to mention that the 30p was likely 30 pence?

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  18. What a wonderful story! Sometimes we get unexpected surprises in our lives!

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    1. We do! It was a wonderful reminder that you never know what's around the corner - or who. Good thing for a writer to remember. Thanks, Tara.

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  19. What a blessing you received and passed on to us! Such a beautiful story, and no, you're wrong, it wasn't totally the connection to Georgette Heyer--you are such a special person--no way could she forget you.

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  20. Thank you, Patricia. Nice of you to say. One of the miracles of my life is all the wonderful people who pass through it! Happy weekend!

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  21. Muriel,
    What a touching story and I agree with everyone else, a touching inheritance.

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