Six Degrees of Separation: from Normal People to The Inheritance of Loss

It’s time again for 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 Normal People by Sally Rooney. This is one of my TBRs. I did begin it but it didn’t appeal to me. I’m in the minority, though, as I know it is very popular, many people love both the book and the TV series and it  has won several awards. It’s the story of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

Normal People

Sally Rooney is an Irish author, as is Maggie O’Farrell, whose book Instructions for a Heatwave was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award. Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn’t come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone.

Also shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award was All the Birds, Singing by Australian author Evie Wyld, a book I would like to read. This is a novel, using reverse chronology techniques, telling the story of Jake Whyte who lives on an unnamed island off the coast of Britain, tending her flock of sheep with her dog, Dog. Someone, or something, is killing her sheep, and her investigations lead her and the reader back to her time in Australia to the ‘original sin’ that sets everything in motion.

Another novel featuring the killing of sheep is Seeking Whom He May Devour by French author, Fred Vargas. It’s set in the French mountains. Johnstone, a Canadian is living there whilst he films a documentary about wolves. The problems start when more and more sheep are found with their throats torn out. This is the second in her Commissaire Adamsberg series. I thought it was quite quirky with touches of humour.

Thinking about wolves reminded me of Stef Penny’s novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, another Costa Award winning book. It’s set in Canada in 1867 beginning in a small place called Dove River on the north shore of Georgian Bay, narrated in part by Mrs Ross. It begins as she describes the last time she saw the French-Canadian trapper, Laurent Jammet alive.  He was the Ross’s closest neighbour and the next time she saw him was in his cabin, lying dead on his bed, his throat cut and he had been scalped.

Next I thought of another book set in Canada, The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson. This is a beautiful book set in  in Northern Canada about two brothers, Arthur and Jake Dunn who grow up on a small farm near Struan (a fictional town) in the 1930s. Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father’s farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006.

And that brings me to the last book in the chain – the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2006 was Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. This is set in the Himalayas where a judge and his granddaughter live in a dilapidated mansion. The judge, broken by a world too messy for justice, is haunted by his past. His orphan granddaughter has fallen in love with her handsome tutor, despite their different backgrounds and ideals. The cook’s heart is with his son, who is working in a New York restaurant, mingling with an underclass from all over the globe as he seeks somewhere to call home.


The books in my chain are linked either by the authors’ nationality, prize winning books and books about the killing of sheep! 

Next month (July 6, 2020), the chain begins with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt – a book I loved!

17 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from Normal People to The Inheritance of Loss

  1. I love how you did this chain! Have you read O’Farrell’s latest book, Hamnet? It is MARVELOUS! And I’ll be reading Wyld’s new novel (The Bass Rock) soon – it will be my first of her novels for me.


  2. I’ve read the middle two of your six – enjoyed both. I must read more Vargas, she is great. I still haven’t read any of O’Farrell’s novels – I adored her memoir though. I must admit, you putting two books involving the killing of sheep amongst those others made me giggle!

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  3. I really like the clever way you’ve linked these, Margaret! Very clever! And you’ve reminded me that I haven’t read Stef Penney lately, and I really ought to. It’s excellent work, and I just haven’t been back for more lately. That’s the thing about books – too many books, and too little time…

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  4. Excellent chain! I’ve read two of those, the Fred Vargas and the Stef Penny. Very interested in the Maggie O’Farrell, not read anything by her.

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  5. I really enjoyed your chain, as always, Margaret. I really like the sound of The Other Side of the Bridge so will add that to the TBR list. 😀

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  6. I really liked Instructions for a Heatwave. I’ve watched Normal People on TV and have decided that it is just not for me, I suspect I’m too old for it! Having said that though I can’t imagine a younger me liking it, it’s quite depressing.

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  7. Really enjoyed how you linked your books. I have made a note of the Maggie O’Farrell book. I love the title but the story sounds like something I would enjoy.

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  8. Haha, the killing of sheep has to be one of the most original links ever! This sounds like a great chain. I’ve read and enjoyed The Tenderness of Wolves, and Instructions for a Heatwave is on my TBR, but other ones all sound good too, especially the last one. I may have to add it to my wishlist… 🙂

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  9. I enjoyed The Tenderness of Wolves and have The Other Side of the Bridge on my tbr. Several others in your list are vying to join the pile too now! Love the clever connections, Margaret!


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