Six Degrees of Separation: from A Gentleman in Moscow to …

I love doing Six Degrees of Separation, 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.

A Gentleman in Moscow

This month the chain begins with A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – a book I haven’t read, or even heard of before. It looks interesting from the description on Amazon:

On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.

Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

My first link is to another book set in Moscow Mrs Harris goes to Moscow by Paul Gallico This is a lovely little book. Mrs Harris is a London char lady who wins a trip to Moscow, where she wants to find her employer’s long-lost love. Mayhem ensues when she is thought to be Lady Char (the Russians not understanding what a ‘char lady’ is had converted it to ‘Lady Char’) and also a spy.

My second link is to a book about another visitor to Moscow: Archangel by Robert Harris. Set in present day Russia, it tells the story of Fluke Kelso, a former Oxford historian who is in Moscow for a conference on the newly opened Soviet archives. He learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin and his search takes him to the vast forests near the White Sea port of Archangel.

Moving away from Moscow, but still in Russia my third link is Midnight in St Petersburg by Vanora Bennett. It begins in 1911 in pre-revolutionary Russia with Inna Feldman travelling by train to St Petersburg to escape the pogroms in Kiev. I liked the way Inna’s personal story is intermingled with the historical characters of the time, including Father Grigory (Rasputin), Prince Youssoupoff and Lenin.

The next book that came into my mind is another book set in St Petersburg and featuring Rasputin – Sashenka by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It begins in 1916 in St Petersburg. Sashenka’s mother parties with Rasputin whilst Sashenka is involved with conspiracy. It then moves forward to 1939 in Moscow under Stalin and ends in the 1990s when a young historian researches her life and discovers her fate. I haven’t read this book yet, even though I’ve had it for a long time.

My fifth link is a book I did read a long time ago, also set in Russia during the Russian Revolution – Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. At this distance in time my memories of it are a bit vague, but I remember more about the film of the book starring Julie Christie and Omar Sharif amongst others. I’d love to read it again sometime …

And so to the last link. It really should be to another book set in Russia to complete the chain with just one common theme. I wondered about a few – Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, or War and Peace, but eventually settled on a non fiction book, A People’s Tragedy: the Russian Revolution by Orlando Figes,  Unlike the other books in my chain I haven’t read this book, and it is not one of my TBRs – but it is now. It’s been described as the most vivid, moving and comprehensive history of the Russian Revolution available today. It’s long – 960 pages – and has won several awards.


My chain has one link throughout – Russia – passing from Moscow to St Petersburg and covering the modern day and the Russian Revolutionary period. Apart from the last book they are all fiction, beginning with the rather twee novel about Mrs Harris in Moscow. And for once I haven’t included any crime fiction!

Next month (October 5, 2019), we’ll begin with Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

38 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from A Gentleman in Moscow to …

  1. All your books set in Russia – very clever, Margaret. And a variety of books, too, as ever! Your mention of Mrs. Harris Goes to Moscow reminds me of Mrs. ‘Arris goes to Paris, which I remember enjoying when I read it. It’s one of those series I liked, but didn’t keep up with, and I’m glad to be reminded of it.

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  2. Well done – a 100% Russian chain! Besides from A Gentleman in Moscow, I haven’t actually read any of these, but Archangel sounds interesting and I guess I have to get to Doctor Zhivago at some point, it is such a classic story.

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  3. Loved your Russia theme. Like you, I read Dr. Zhivago years ago. Perhaps a re-read for me, too. I remember Paul Gallico as the author of The Poseidon Adventure, but haven’t read any of his other novels.

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    1. I haven’t read The Poseidon Adventure – he wrote a lot of books, but the only others of his I’ve read are Mrs Harris MP and The Small Miracle – a lovely little book about a a boy and his donkey.


  4. We are on similar reading paths, as I was tempted to do my chain all in Russia and recently picked up Sashenka (mine has a more garish cover, I think). Also, I just read Life After Life, after having waited for the right moment for years. I have also been reading the newest Ann Cleeves and a friend just sent me one of the Vera books I hadn’t read. Midnight in St. Petersburg sounds like one I would enjoy; I will check my library.

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  5. Very nice chain, Margaret! I guess Archangel doesn’t qualify as crime fiction – perhaps spy-ish fiction? Ha! I’m impressed that you could think of so many with Russian settings. And no, I’m not going to read Dr. Zhivago or War and Peace. Isn’t that nice that I’ve decided on two books out of the zillion available that I won’t read. 😉

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    1. Ha, ha, Kay! It’s good to read books, but it’s also very satisfying to decide there are books that you won’t read by choice – there are too many books I want to read and know there’ll never be enough time to get round to them. (:


  6. I love your Russian theme this month, Margaret. I enjoyed Midnight in St Petersburg but was a bit disappointed by Archangel and Doctor Zhivago. A Gentleman in Moscow is great – I highly recommend it!

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  7. I’m very impressed with an entire chain of books set in Russia. And you’ve read most of them too. I’m attracted to Archangel and will take a look at that on Goodreads.

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  8. Great chain Margaret. I love the “get out the vodka” comment above. I haven’t read any of these, except for the starting book, though of course I’ve seen Dr Zhivago, and I do know of Paul Gallico.

    You hadn’t heard of A gentleman in Moscow, but have you heard of next month’s book that everyone’s talking about? I hadn’t!

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  9. Very clever maintaining your russian theme throughout, Margaret. Mrs Harris may be twee but she sounds delightful. And it’s one of a series? I shall look out for it. Sometimes a little light reading is what’s required and this does sound a bit different to the usual light reading I go for 🙂

    (Glad you loved Life After Life!)

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    1. There are 4 Mrs Harris books – Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris (pub as Flowers for Mrs Harris in the US), Mrs. Harris Goes to New York, Mrs. Harris, MP (pub as Mrs ‘Arris Goes to Parliament in the US), as well as Mrs Harris Goes to Moscow.

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  10. I love your Russian themed-chain, especially as it includes Dr Zhivago, which is perhaps one of my most favourite books. The story of how it came to be published is as engrossing as the novel itself – I can recommend ‘The Zhivago Affair’ by Peter Finn. 😀

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    1. Thanks, Missie – my library has copies of this book with lots of reservations so I’ll get to read it sometime – or I might buy a copy. So many people have rated it highly.


  11. Ooh, what a great chain! I wish you’d done this while I was doing my Russian Revolution challenge a couple of years ago – a couple of novels there that would have fitted in beautifully. Maybe I’ll have to resurrect the challenge! I can highly recommend A People’s Tragedy – it is huge, but it’s very readable and gives a brilliant all-round picture of before and during the Revolution.

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