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 the chain begins with Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang,
a family memoir – the story of three generations of woman in Jung Chang’s family – her grandmother, mother and herself, telling of their lives in China up to and during the years of the violent Cultural Revolution. Her family suffered atrociously, her father and grandmother both dying painful deaths and both her mother and father were imprisoned and tortured.
The first book in my chain is also about a Chinese daughter. It’s Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah. She grew up during the Communist Revolution, was blamed for her mother’s death, ignored by her millionaire father and unwanted by her Eurasian step mother. A moving story set during extraordinary political events in China and Hong Kong.
My next book is about a fictional daughter: The Buttonmaker’s Daughter by Merryn Allingham, historical fiction set in Sussex in the summer of 1914 just before the start of the First World War. It covers just a few months, but those few months contain so much tension and heartbreak as the feud in the Summers family comes to a climax over the question of who Elizabeth Summer should marry and war on the continent becomes inevitable.
This leads on to a book by another author named Allingham. It’s The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham in which Jack Havoc is on the loose in post-war London, resulting in murder, mystery and mayhem. Meg’s marriage to self-made millionaire Geoffrey Levett should have been happy, until she began receiving photos of her late husband Martin, presumed dead in WWII. She calls on old friend Albert Campion to get to the bottom of things. For Campion, the case was cut and dry – until a brutal triple murder. I was immediately struck by the imagery – the fog pervades everything.
And the next book is also set in foggy London – Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens,
… the fog was heavy and dark. Animate London, with smarting eyes and irritated lungs, was blinking, wheezing, and choking: inanimate London was a sooty spectre … (page 242)
This book has multiple plots, centred on John Harmon who returns to England as his father’s heir. It begins as a boatman, Gaffer Hexham and his daughter, Lizzie, find a corpse in the Thames.
A body found in the Thames provides the next link in my chain to a modern crime fiction novel, A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton. This is such a terrifying novel, particularly if like me, you have a fear of drowning. Police Constable Lacey Flint thinks she’s safe. Living on the river, she’s never been happier. Until she finds a body floating on the surface, as she wild-swims in the Thames.
This leads to the last book in my chain, another book with the word ‘dark‘ in the title:
A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine. This is psychological crime fiction, you know right from the beginning who the murderer is, but not why or how the murder was committed.
The narrator Faith has spent her life avoiding thinking, talking or reading about the events that led up to her aunt’s hanging for murder. She only develops a “dark-adapted eye” very slowly when asked by a crime writer for her memories.
For once I have read all the books in my chain and they are all books I thoroughly enjoyed, a variety of genres – autobiography, historical fiction, classics and crime fiction. It begins in China and travels to Sussex to London through time from the nineteenth century to the present day.
When I begin a chain I never know where it will end. What about you, where does yours go and where does it end?
Next month (October 7, 2017), the chain begins with a book that I haven’t read (or heard about) – Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.