All that glitters…

To mark the release of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS this month, I am happy to welcome writer friends to the blog to share with you a story about a family heirloom that is precious to them. An heirloom scarf is what ties two women together in A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, and heirlooms are what tie these blog posts together. At the end of the month, there will be a fun giveaway. Enjoy!

Today I’m happy to welcome Barbara Claypole White. English born and educated, Barbara writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina. Her husband is an internationally-acclaimed academic; their son is an award-winning young poet / musician. His battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have inspired her to write stories that find healing and hope in the darkness of invisible disabilities such as severe grief or clinical depression. Her characters are quirky and damaged, but they always find the light through the trees (a recurring image in her writing). The Unfinished Garden, Barbara’s debut novel, won the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book. The In-Between Hour, her second novel, has been named a Winter 2014 Okra Pick by Southern Indie Bookstores. Read to the end to see how you can win a signed copy of the The In-Between Hour.

“A Starburst of Diamonds”

BarbaraCWhiteI’ve never been a sparkly baubles kind of girl. When my husband and I decided to get married twenty-five years ago, he bought me a simple, gold watch; I bought him a decorative walking stick. We’re both feminists at heart, and we wanted to do things a little differently. Without glitter and whistles and bells. Or diamonds. (I didn’t have a wedding gown either.)

I continued to be strangely proud of the plain wedding band on my fourth finger for the next decade or so. And I reveled in the fact that my husband and I were starting new traditions that didn’t come from his family or mine.  Then my father died, I rushed back to my childhood home in England, and everything changed. Nothing mattered more than keeping the past alive and preserving memories—and memorabilia—to hand down to future generations.

Before I flew home to America, my mother and I had one of those soul-searching conversations about life and death. She asked if there was anything special in the house that I would like her to bequeath to me in her will. I didn’t have to think about an answer because I looked at her fingers and knew. There was only one engagement ring I could ever have imagined wearing. It had belonged to my maternal grandmother, and it had dazzled me since I was a lTheInBetweenHourittle girl. A starburst of diamonds around a sapphire, it seemed to have magical qualities, and my mother wore it constantly.

When I was packing, my mother handed me the ring. It fit perfectly. That ring is now my most prized possession.  I barely remember my grandmother, but I’ve always felt connected to her. Like me, she married an older man; like me, she was a country girl.  I’ve also been told I’m her doppelganger.

The ring is mine, but I know that it’s mine only in transition. One day I will pass it along—as a treasured family heirloom.

Connect with Barbara on her website , Facebook or Twitter @bclaypolewhite.

Thanks, Barbara, for sharing about the one ring you DID want! If you have a US postal address, you can be in on the drawing for Barbara’s newest book, The In-Between Hour, by commenting below. Did you have a favorite piece of jewelry that was passed down to you?  Post your comment here by noon Pacific on Feb 12 and your name’s in the hat. Good luck!

Author: Susan

This post has 14 Comments

  1. Debra Hearne on February 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I loved this blog! The mixing of new ideas & old traditions becomes a way of making it yours!

  2. Barbara Claypole White on February 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Debra–I know. I love blending the old and the new…

  3. Amanda Dick on February 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    What a beautiful story, Barbara. I can definitely relate. I’m a magpie at heart, and a soppy romantic to boot. When I was in my early 20’s, my Mother (also a soppy romantic – must be genetic) gave me a cameo ring and a set of gorgeous pearl rosary beads that belonged to my great grandmother. I was ecstatic – they were not only beautiful, but they had two generations of memories attached to them. Even better – they were now mine. I was sharing a house with 3 others at that time, and the worst possible thing happened. Two days before Christmas, as I was gleefully working the final day before the start of my 3 week holiday with the family over the Christmas period, I received a phone call from one of my roommates to tell me that we had been burgled. I lost not only all the Christmas presents I had packed up, ready to take home – but also my cameo ring and rosary beads. I was heartbroken. Six years later, I left my home in New Zealand to travel to London, and then a 4 month trip around Europe followed. While my fellow travelers were buying souvenir t-shirts and Swiss Army knives, I saved my money. In Rome, I bought a replacement set of rosary beads from an antique store (that cost me almost more than my back-pack) and in Venice, a replacement cameo ring. I gave the rosary beads to my grandmother, who has since passed away. Now, they are mine again, for me to hold on to for my daughter (and hopefully, for her children, too). So while they aren’t the original pieces, they have a story attached to them that I hope will stay with them throughout their caretakers. They were worth all the souvenir t-shirts and Swiss Army knives in the world 🙂

    PS: I have recently won a copy of Barbara’s wonderful book (yet to begin reading as life has gotten in the way since it arrived!) so if my name is drawn, please re-draw so that someone else may have the chance to own it! I just wanted to share my story as Barbara’s touched my heart. Thank you Barbara – and thanks Susan for asking 🙂

  4. Susan on February 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    What a lovely story, Amanda. I kept hoping you had the rosary and cameo returned to you! But I love that you recreated them and will pass them on in in a reinvented life. That is cool!

  5. Clair on February 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    No jewelry in my family, but I have my some teacups from my grandma…it makes me glad to have something tangible to remember her by. I would love to win the book. ( clairjuly at yahoo dot com )

  6. Barbara Claypole White on February 8, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I love your story, Amanda. And Clair–I have mugs from my childhood in England that I plan to give to my son one day (the Queen’s Jubilee, Di and Charles’s wedding…)

  7. Polly Schneider on February 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I have some of my mother’s china. We only used it on special occasions. It is actually called the Lovelace pattern, my Mom’s Maiden name. That brings something extra special to it.

  8. Darcy Pangell on February 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t have any jewelry that has been passed down but I do have my Grandmother’s tea cups & saucers that are very special to me. They do have a special place in my heart & I have them displayed in my kitchen & think of her when I have my afternoon tea. Susan, thank you so much for this blog & fantastic books you keep publishing. I had the honor of seeing you speak at Northwestern college in Mn a few years ago with my good friend Karen that loved you as well. She passed away 4 years ago on Valentines day. She adored your books as much as I do. I know she is enjoying them in heaven as well ! 🙂

  9. Susan on February 10, 2014 at 1:16 am

    I remember you, Darcy! So glad you shared about your grandmother’s teacups! Nice to hear there is someone in heaven I need to say hello to when I get there… 🙂

  10. Susan on February 10, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Clair, you have teacups, too! I need to ask my dad if my grandma had teacups that he’s got sitting in a box somewhere!

  11. Sandi on February 12, 2014 at 1:46 am

    When I was 18, I left home and got a job in Washington,DC. With my first paycheck, I bought my mom a ring. About three years ago, it was returned to me by my sister. It certainly means a lot! I’d love to win the book, thanks for the opportunity.

  12. Bonnie Roof on February 12, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Hi, Barbara!

    Loved the story of your ring! When my grandmother passed away, she left some special pieces of jewelry to each of the women in my family – I have a bracelet, and a watch on a chain. But she also left some undesignated pieces of costume jewelry, which were disassembled, and bits from several different pieces of jewelry were clustered together to make unusual pins to wear. A pretty, and different to remember her!!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of “The In-Between Hour”!!


  13. Debbie Cox on February 12, 2014 at 5:46 am

    My ring was given to me by my maternal grandmother, Edith Walker. It is a thin, flat, rose-gold band. It was the engagement ring that my great grandfather gave to my great grandmother, Deborah (my namesake),in 1890. It has the word “FRIENDSHIP” imprinted on it. I am glad to know that he knew that love and friendship are everlasting!

  14. Susan on February 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks to for picking our winner! Congrats, Clair. You have won Barbara’s lovely book. Let’s connect by email so that I can mail it to you! Off to email you now!

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