I've been thinking about legacies as the central theme of my next novel. The legacy as a physical representation of a family heritage, and as a physical representation of an incomplete truth. Folklore, or the family stories passed down from ancestor to descendant, like the child's game of telephone, starts with a seed of truth but then becomes distorted by repetition, time and interpretation until it either dies or no longer resembles the truth from which it sprouted. Legacies, on the other hand, are those documents or objects or artifacts left behind that can either corroborate or refute folklore, or leave us to interpret and construct new stories. Let's take for example this tableau of perfumery. My grandmother loved to travel and she loved to shop. Some of her perfume bottles were souvenirs from her travels, some from the department store counter. She kept them on her dressing table on a mirrored plate. I used to love to look at all the different shapes and sizes, but it never occurred to me to ask her for the story behind each one . . . where did it come from, why did she pick that particular one, did a certain scent go with a certain outfit (because she always bought the entire ensemble together at the same time). Now, all I have are the bottles. Some are marked, most are not. Not a lot to go on, but one thing I can say is true is that they are all originals. Beyond that, everything else is conjecture and folklore. For the novel, I'm working with a manuscript and a coat of arms. Somewhere along the way, both were deemed to be not true or not original. Does that make them any less interesting, or of value to the history of a person? I'm sticking with the theory that legacies are born of a seed of truth. Just as I know these perfume bottles sat on my grandmother's dressing table, I know the manuscript and the coat of arms originated with a story, a piece of folklore with a true beginning. I just need to find it.
Georgia Stimson's Perfume Bottle Collection