When Kathryn Schultz heard about the talk and book signing scheduled for last week with Mary Higgins Clark at Mount Vernon, she quickly purchased a ticket for herself and her mother, Mary Jennison.
Schultz knew that her mother was a long-time fan of Clark and she wanted to make sure that she didn’t miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I’ve read most of her books,” said Jennison. “They’re easy reading, you just plough through them.”
The $75 tickets gave admission to a two-hour program beginning with an 1800’s musical interlude, a conversation with Mary Higgins Clark, a reception and book signing. Clark delighted the audience with stories about how she got information for the book (she called the current director of Mount Vernon and invited herself for a visit), how the original title was all wrong (it was put on the shelves with spirituality books) and she managed to raise five children and write even after she became a young widow.
“I thought she was charming,” said Jennison. “She appears just like she does on television.”
As soon as the hour-long conversation with Clark ended, Jennison quickly exited the auditorium to be first in line to have her newly purchased book signed by Clark.
Jennison said that she was on the last chapter of “Mount Vernon Love Story,” a book written about George and Martha Washington in 1969 by Mary Higgins Clark. Mount Vernon hosted the event to celebrate the re-issue of the book.
“It’s not one of her best, but it was very informative and entertaining,” said Jennison.
ORIGINALLY TITLED “Aspire to the Heavens,” the book written by the then-undiscovered author languished in book stores. It would be several years after that before she would strike it big with her first best seller, “Where are the Children?” Best sellers came rapidly after that and Mary Higgins Clark became a household name.
Yet, her original book, very different from the mystery novels that she became famous for, was virtually unknown.
That is until Mary Washington Shaffner, a descendent of George Washington, brought the book to the attention Jim Reese, Executive Director of Mount Vernon. She told him that it was a book that anybody working at Mount Vernon needed to read.
Reese read it and contacted Simon & Schuster to ask if they would consider re-issuing the book. They agreed, decided on a new title, and had one of the historians from Mount Vernon review it for factuality.
There was very little that needed to be changed. As usual, Clark had done her homework.