Six Degrees of Separation: From Revolutionary Road to On Chesil Beach

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each 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 one next to it in the chain.


This month’s chain begins with:

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, set in America in 1955, focussing on the hopes and aspirations of Frank and April Wheeler, self-assured Connecticut suburbanites.

I haven’t read Revolutionary Road, so knowing very little about it I’m using the title as the link to: The Ghost Road by Pat Barker. I haven’t read this one either but I’ve had a copy on my shelves for a few years. It’s set in 1918 during the last months of the First World War.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is also set during the First World War and is yet another book I haven’t read yet. In 2012 I watched the two-part television adaptation, starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Wraysford, the main character. I loved the story, so I’m looking forward to reading the book.

Eddie Redmayne was also in the film The Theory of Everything. This is a beautiful film based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen and another book I own that I haven’t read yet!

This leads me on to another biography and to another TBR that has sat partly read on my shelves for several years. It’s Thomas Hardy:The Time Torn Man by Claire Tomalin. Hardy is one of my favourite authors.

And this is one of my favourite books of his –  The Mayor of Casterbridge, which I first read at school. It’s set in Hardy’s Wessex, a fictional area covering the small area of Dorset in which Hardy grew up. Casterbridge is the name he used for Dorchester, his home town. Michael Henchard, a man of violent passions who sells his wife and child, subsequently becomes  the rich and respected Mayor, but ends his life in ruin and degradation. (the cover I’ve shown above is of the paperback I first read).

The chain ends with On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, a book also set in Dorset – in a hotel at Chesil Beach on the Dorset coast in 1962, where a newly married couple struggle to suppress their fears of their wedding night to come.

My chain goes from books I haven’t read to books I’ve loved and from 1950s America via the First World War and the life and work  of Stephen Hawking to that of Thomas Hardy and finally to Dorset in 1962.

20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Revolutionary Road to On Chesil Beach

  1. Great chain! Do read Revolutionary Road if you get the chance – it blew me away when I read it for the Great American Novel Quest a couple of years ago. But be warned – have a box of tissues handy, and some medicinal chocolate…


  2. What a great chain! Birdsong is a wonderful book and you’ve reminded me that I deliberately avoided the Eddie Redmayne adaptation as I was about to read the novel, I must find it somewhere and watch! I have seen The Theory of Everything (in which Redmayne was amazing) – and I do love memoir… another on the tbr list! Along with Tomalin’s biography of Hardy…. oh dear!


  3. What a nice exercise. I loved Birdsong. Did not know it was filmed. I also love Hardy and read a biography of him, but not Tomalin’s. I read her bio og Dickens which is great. The Mayor of Casterbridge is also my favourite Hardy.


  4. Somehow I think On Chesil Beach is the perfect end point to Revolutionary Road because it feels very 1950s, and is devastating – in a different way (though I haven’t read RR so am just going on hearsay!)


  5. It’s funny how easy it is to construct chains with books you haven’t read – I often do this and I guess it’s all about your impression or expectation of a book.

    You finished your chain with possibly my favourite McEwan (it fights with Atonement for that honour). But Chesil Beach is McEwan at his best – short, punchy, thoughtful.

    Thanks for playing along.


  6. I think I will have to reread Chesil Beach one day. I obviously failed to appreciate it properly at the time, given how much blogger love it gets.


    1. Well I know opinion is divided on On Chesil Beach, so maybe you’ll still feel the same. I think I will re-read it – I first read it in 2007, so I wonder if I’ll still like it as much as I did then.


  7. Very clever chain here, Margaret! And you’ve reminded me of some books I’ve been meaning to get to, too. Oh, and I agree with you about The Theory of Everything – a fine, fine film.


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