In 1950s Baltimore, the breadman, the milkman, salesmen, and creditors sold their wares and collected what was owed in person. Helena Sinclair was expecting Evan Monahan, North American Beneficial Life and Casualty Insurance Company’s top agent, to collect the May premium on the life insurance policy she had on her husband, Russell. The only problem was she did not have the money, and she was frantic. Helena was obsessed with life insurance and feared if anything happened to the love of her life – heaven forbid – she would be destitute like some of her neighbors and church members who had lost their breadwinners.
If you want to find out how “Helena Sinclair” handled her problem, you will have to pick up the newest book by Baltimore author and playwright Stella Adams. On Saturday, August 25, 2018, Adams held a book signing for her latest work, which is entitled “Beneficial Life”. Adams hosted the event at her Randallstown, Maryland home.
“The turnout was tremendous,” said Adams, whose first book “Heavy is the Rain,” was later adapted as a play. “Because they loved the first book, they also had high expectations for the second one. I try to come up with new twists people don’t think about. It has been very well-received. I thank everyone for their support.”
Event highlights included food, live entertainment featuring Charles Dockins, and Q&A. During the event, Adams read excerpts from the book.
“I am comfortable with the 1950s because that is my era,” said Adams. “I am a people-watcher. I look at the small things that affect people’s lives. I just wanted to pick those things people don’t think about that can impact their lives.”
Adams gave such examples.
“It could be a simple thing like taking a different direction to go to work and ending up in an accident. Or, it could be running into an old friend from school who has a terminal illness. In the book, Helena thinks about what might happen to her if her husband dies. Sometimes, we just aren’t expecting to run into an illness, but it’s something that could greatly impact our lives.”
The author notes that the book’s title “Beneficial Life” is derived from the North American Beneficial Life and Casualty Company, a fictitious life insurance company.
“The name of the book does play on what happens in the book,” said Adams. “The drop of blood on the cover of the book signifies there is an issue of blood.”
With Helena’s husband Russell gambling and spending a lot of time at the neighborhood bar, it was getting more difficult to pay the insurance premium. However, Beneficial Life’s Evan Monahan has come up with a solution to Helena’s problem. Reluctantly, she accepts his help. But as it turns out, he isn’t the person he presented himself to be.
“Another thing people can take away from the book is that things aren't always as they seem.” Adams added with a smile, “You can't judge a book by its cover. No pun intended.”
Adams is a native of Winnsboro, South Carolina and grew up in Baltimore, MD. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, and a master’s degree from Towson State University. Professionally, she spent over 35 years in government service.
“The book illustrates that life is precarious,” she said. “You need to treasure it and your loved ones.”
Patricia Martin of the Liberty’s Lite Readers Book Club was among those who attended the event. The Liberty’s Lite Readers Book Club is comprised of a group of seniors age 60 and older. The group meets each month to discuss books they have read as a group. Martin said she is going to recommend Beneficial Life to the group.
“I read the book in two days,” said Martin. “I could relate to it. I am from that 1950s era. The book had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Once I opened the book, I couldn’t close it.”
“Beneficial Life” sells for $15 and is available on Amazon.com. For more information, you can email Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stellaadams.net