Six Degrees of Separation: From Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to Bring Up the Bodies

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 it begins with a book that is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. I’ve not read this book, but the title, with my name in it, intrigues me. Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends.

There are several ways I thought of to go from this book – my name, or the author’s name, or the subject matter of a coming of age novel, or a relationship with God.

After several false starts, I chose another coming , bof age novel. The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch is about Miles O’Malley, a thirteen year old boy and about life, growing up, relationships and love. It’s narrated by an adult Miles, looking back at that summer when he found a giant squid, dying on the mudflats at Skookumchuck Bay, at the southern end of Puget Sound, near his house. That was the summer he had a crush on Angie, his ex-babysitter, and his best friend, old Florence was getting sicker each week.

Moving on to another book about ‘tides‘ to The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Hume set in Scotland on the fictional island of Eilean Iasgaich. Cal McGill uses his knowledge of tides, winds and currents to solve mysteries, which helps in the investigation of the appearance of severed feet in trainers that had been washed on shore on islands miles apart. It’s a story of unsolved mysteries both from the present day and from the Second World War, and of two Indian girls, sold into the sex trafficking trade.

And the next link is the word ‘sea‘ in the title in The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter set in lost landscapes this is a novel revolving around a mother and daughter caught up in catastrophic events. The lost landscapes are the village of Imber, a Wiltshire village that was requisitioned by the army during World War Two, where Violet had grown up, and the coastal village of Kanyakumari in Southern India, where her daughter Alice was caught up in the tsunami that devastated the area in 1971.

Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne is a time-slip story with an element of mystery and suspense. Grace Trewe is drawn into Hawise Aske’s life, four and a half centuries earlier in York, 1577. Grace likes to travel and although she survived the Boxing Day tsunami she is suppressing her memories of what happened. As she learns how Hawise died it gets to the point where she dreads slipping out of current time into not only Hawise’s past but also into her own as she remembers what happened to her in the tsunami.

Another time-slip novel is The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick which alternates between the Tudor period and the present day following the life of Alison Banestre (known as Bannister in the present day) as she moves between the centuries trying to find out what happened to Mary Seymour. It’s a mystery, based on the true story of Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr (Henry VIII’s sixth wife) and Thomas Seymour, who she married after Henry’s death.

Thomas Seymour was Jane Seymour’s brother. Their family home was Wolf Hall, an early 17th-century manor house where Mary Seymour was taken in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child. This brings me to Hilary Mantel’s trilogy, Wolf Hall and specifically to the second book in the trilogy, Bring Up the Bodies, which begins at Wolf Hall, where Henry VIII is visiting the Seymours. And it is at Wolf Hall that Henry begins to fall in love with Jane.

My chain this month includes a coming of age novel, books with tides and seas in their titles, time-slip novels and books in which Wolf Hall features. It begins in America in 1970, moves forward and backwards in time and place to the 16th century in England.

Next month (January 2, 2021), we’ll start with the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell.

21 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to Bring Up the Bodies

  1. A great chain , and one from which I’ve only read the Blume and the Mantel. But I’ve decided all your choices may have to find a place on my TBR list – it’s never ending, isn’t it?

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  2. This is a fantastic chain, Margaret! I loved the Judy Blume book when I was a girl. And The Sea Detective is an excellent read. And then the Mantel, too. Yes, that’s a great group of books!

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  3. I thought about going with all books with Margaret in the title but instead went with coming of age stories! Yours all sound great. I like Nicola Cornick’s books and the Mantel (although she sounds like a piece of work). Time’s Echo has been on my TBR but no library in my state has it. The Sea Detective is available and now on reserve for me. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Here is my chain:

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  4. I meant to ask if you have read Catherine Fox. I don’t see her on your author list but her books set in Durham are so fascinating that I went there.


  5. I’ve read several of the books in your chain this month – The Sea Change, The Phantom Tree and Bring Up the Bodies, all of which I enjoyed. I’ll have to look out for Time’s Echo. I’ve read one of Pamela Hartshorne’s other time-slip novels, The Edge of Dark, which is also set in York in the 16th century.

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    1. Just in case you haven’t found out yet I can tell you that before writing books Mark Douglas-Home was the editor of Scotland’s leading daily newspaper, The Herald, and The Sunday Times Scotland. He is the nephew of the late Sir Alec Douglas-Home who was Prime Minister of the UK from October 1963 to October 1964. The Hirsel, the family home of the Douglas-Homes is not far from where I live.

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      1. Cool! I love Scotland–I have only visited once when I was 14, but it’s such an amazing place. I followed UK politics avidly in college–one professor had worked for a Labor MP. Naturally, my goodbye gift to him was a poster of the Queen & Philip from my visit to Balmoral!


  6. Always happy to see any mention of Hilary Mantel at all (she is one of my favorite authors)! Time’s Echo too was known to me as things to read if you’ve liked Gabaldon’s Outlander, but Phantom Tree is a new find and looks fascinating. The Seymours are always intriguing to read about. Happy #6Degrees
    ~Six Degrees Post @Lexlingua


  7. I like your chain, and as someone else said, it has added to my TBR list, and no, there is no answer to that conundrum!

    I had not heard of Mark Douglas-Home, and I will certainly look him up, as I have promised to write some guest blogs about Scottish books for an American friend’s blog. I’d like to read these myself too (more TBR!)

    I still haven’t read Wolf Hall, though I loved it on TV. ( I don’t think Hilary Mantel is ‘a piece of work’ though! She’s a woman who has been through a lot. When I’ve heard her speak she always seems very sensible.)

    The Sea Change caught my attention, as I recall seeing a programme Michael Portillo made about Imber and how it was taken over by the army. It was both fascinating and heartbreaking, as the people who were evacuated were initially told that they would be able to move back, but they never were. He interviewed some of their families, it was terribly sad.

    Thank you for some very interesting suggestions.


  8. Interesting chain! This monthly feature really brings out the most creative thinking in bloggers. I love it!

    The Sea Detective seems really good, will have a look. Bring up the bodies is the only Hilary Mantel I’ve read. Should try a few more.

    I am so terribly late with Six Degrees this month, but at least I got to do it! Here it is!

    Six Degrees – From Margaret to Anna


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