Six Degrees of Separation: from Fleishman is in Trouble 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.


This month the chain begins with Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner,  a novel described as ‘a blistering satirical novel about Marriage, Divorce and Modern relationships‘. It’s a book that so many people declare is incredibly wise, a powerful feminist book, with depth, wit, nuance and life, shrewdly observed and and utterly of this moment. It is a book I have not read and also one that I doubt I will read.

Where to go from there? I had trouble deciding!

In the end I decided to go with the word ‘trouble‘ and that made me think of Bill Bryson’s book Troublesome Words, a book about the use of words, which is probably as far removed from Fleishman is in Trouble that you could get. It’s arranged like a dictionary, so a book to dip into rather than one to read straight through. For example if you want to know the difference between ‘that’ and ‘which’ this is the book to go to. And how about starting a sentence with the word ‘and’?  I was taught at school that you should never do that, not so says Bryson.

From Troublesome Words my mind jumped to The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz, as a sentence is made up of words. Rosemary, the wife of wealthy George Barton dies suddenly at her birthday party at a West End Restaurant, the Luxembourg, after drinking a glass of champagne laced with cyanide.

And so onto Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie. Rosemary, the wife of wealthy George Barton dies suddenly at her birthday party at a West End Restaurant, the Luxembourg, after drinking a glass of champagne laced with cyanide.

A birthday party features in Nicola Upson’s Fear in the Sunlight, the fourth novel featuring Josephine Tey. Summer, 1936. The writer, Josephine Tey, joins her friends in the holiday village of Portmeirion in Wales to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, are there to sign a deal to film Josephine Tey’s novel, A Shilling for Candles.

So, my next link is to another book set in Wales, but in the Brecon Beacons not the coast. It’s Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas. It also links back to Fleishman is in Trouble in that it’s about the trouble caused when Selena, Kirsty’s cousin, arrives at their new guesthouse and murder follows.

Finally, another troublesome character called Selena appears in Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. She was a spy whose mission failed – a story of deception, about writers and writing and readers and reading, with multiple stories within stories.

My chain begins and ends with a book about trouble, linked by a book about troublesome words, and murder mysteries involving the use of cyanide, birthday parties, books set in Wales and books with even more troublesome characters – a real mixed bag of connections.

Next month (7 March 2020), we’ll begin with Lucy Treloar’s Wolfe Island, a book that I know nothing about. (Bryson says it’s OK to end  sentence with a preposition).

15 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from Fleishman is in Trouble to …

  1. That Bill Bryson sounds like fun. I have his “Shakespeare” on my TBR list right now. I think I’ll probably start it after I finish reading the Tom Hanks short stories.


  2. You really do the most clever chains, Margaret! I’m always so impressed with the links you put together. This week’s no different! I’m especially happy to see you included some Bill Bryson. I’m always liked his writing and his wit, and it’s nice to see one of his books here. If you’re ever interested (and haven’t read it yet), may I recommend his Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way. In my opinion, it’s witty, insightful, and informative.


  3. Great chain – I particularly like the way you moved from Troublesome Words to The Sentence is Death! It’s nice to see an Agatha Christie book in your chain too, especially one I haven’t read yet.


  4. I always enjoy your 6 Degrees posts, and this time I learned about a Bill Bryson book that I don’t have. As a fan, that surprises me…but thank you!


  5. The very different routes taken in these chains never fail to amaze me. I hadn’t thought of using ‘trouble’ and went for New York. I must return to the Nicola Upson series, she was on a crime panel I went to see several years ago. Very entertaining.


  6. I like your chain, it has clever connections. I have only read Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz but I would like to try some of his other books too. Also, I have not read anything by Bill Bryson and I should.


  7. I love starting sentences with ‘and’ – it makes me feel all rebellious!! And I’m really interested in the McEwan – I have enjoyed lots of his other books so will give this a look too. 😀


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