Six Degrees of Separation: From Flowers in the Attic to We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly link-up hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

Flowers in the Attic chain

This month’s chain begins with:

Flowers in the Attic by V C Andrews, a book I haven’t read. From the synopsis I see that it’s about Chris, Cathy, and the twins, Cory and Carrie who are kept hidden until their grandfather dies so that their mother will receive a sizeable inheritance.

It continues with:

  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger, also about twins, a ghost story about love, loss and identity. When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole. I liked all the information about Highgate Cemetery, but overall this book was disappointing.
  • I much preferred Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, also set in part in Highgate Cemetery in 1901-1908, the early years of the suffragette movement. Two families visit neighbouring graves in Highgate Cemetery. One is decorated with a sentimental angel, the other with an elaborate urn.
  • Another book I loved, also about an angel, but a very different one, is Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers – this combines two stories, that of Julia Garnet, a retired school teacher, who goes to Venice prompted by the death of a friend, and that of  Tobias and the Angel, which she sees in the Guardi panels in the Chiesa dell’ Angelo Raffaele.
  • The next link in the chain is also set in Venice: Wilful Behaviour by Donna Leon – crime fiction, in which Commissario Brunetti looks into the possibility of a pardon for a crime committed by a student’s grandfather during World War 2 and then investigates that student’s murder.
  • Also set in part during World War 2 is Atonement by Ian McEwan, a complex story, split into four parts and told from several points of view. This is a love story and also a mystery. It provides the link to the next book in my chain as revolves around the lives of  two sisters, Briony and her older sister, Cecelia. A book that I loved.
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is also a fantastic book – a weirdly wonderful book about sisters, Merricat and her sister Constance. They live in a grand house, away from the village, behind locked gates, feared and hated by the villagers. Merricat is an obsessive-compulsive, both she and Constance have rituals that they have to perform in an attempt to control their fears.

This chain has taken me from siblings in New York to twin sisters in London, via Highgate Cemetery, angels, Venice, World War 2, back to sisters in America.

8 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Flowers in the Attic to We Have Always Lived in the Castle”

  1. Reading how you started your chain made me think of other books about twins and/or being held captive – Room by Emma Donahue pops to mind but oddly, I didn’t even think of that angle when I wrote my chain.

    Falling Angels sounds fantastic – I’ll have to hunt it down.

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    1. Kate, I immediately thought of the twin angle when I started my chain – I never thought of the captive angle – that’s what I like about this meme – there is always more than one option.

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  2. Ha! Margaret, you caught my eye with Flowers In The Attic. I see you didn’t read it, but I can say that I did…a long, long time ago. At that time, it was very shocking. Do you plan to read it? 😉

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  3. I think Falling Angels is my favourite Tracy Chevalier book, not her most famous by any means but I loved it. Also liked Miss Garnet’s Angel but We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a wierd one! LOL!

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    1. Cath, I’ve read just a few of Chevalier’s books – Falling Angels is my favourite of them too. Mr Golightly’s Holiday is my favourite Salley Vickers book and I did enjoy the weirdness of We Have Always Lived in the Castle!

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  4. Ahhh twins – that’s a great starting link.

    Hmmm Her Fearful Symmetry never quite hit the storytelling heights that she achieved with The Time Traveller’s Wife. But I like the sound of the other book set in Highgate Cemetery. I lived in Highgate for 6 months back in my younger, travelling-the-world-days so I love any links back to there.

    Atonement is probably my fav McEwen. I loved that ending!

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