5 Books about Inheritances Gained, Lost, and Wished For

Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty ponders things inherited.


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We all receive an inheritance. We inherit a sharp nose or wide eyes. We inherit furniture, fishing trophies, journals and baking dishes. Some of us inherit money. But most of what we inherit are stories, or a combination of stories and charged silences. Each of us is shaped by the story we have been told about where we came from, what our people have survived or accomplished, what kind of life we deserve.

While I worked on Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, a novel about a wealthy family that loses their money, I thought about how we carry the past with us, whether it’s in the form of objects, stories, memories or means. I thought about how an inheritance might offer tremendous freedom and sometimes tugs with tremendous weight.

Here are five books about inheritances gained, lost and wished for. What truly belongs to us? What happens when we end up with more than we expected, or less?

Featured Image: Elsa Jenna; Author Photo: Teo Grossman

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RAMONA AUSUBEL is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of the novel No One Is Here Except All of Us and the short story collection A Guide to Being Born. Her work has been published in The New YorkerOne StoryThe Paris Review DailyBest American Fantasy, and elsewhere, and has received special mentions in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award and the Pushcart Prize.

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