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 Six Degrees chain begins with Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, a book I haven’t read. Four-year-old Ramona makes it hard for her big sister Beezus to be the responsible older sister she knows she ought to be, especially when Ramona threatens to ruin Beezus’s birthday party. Will she find the patience to handle her little sister before Ramona turns her big day into a complete disaster?
My first link is the first Charlie and Lola book – I Will Not Ever NEVER Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child as it is about another little sister, Lola, who is also four years old. I first came across the TV version of the books on children’s television and loved it.
I thought of continuing with links to more books about sisters but that didn’t work out so instead my next link is to a book about another character called Charlie in A Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan. Charlie Howard is a thief. It’s set in Amsterdam where he is asked by an American to steal two little monkey figurines to make up the set, ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil‘.
I’m staying in Amsterdam for my third link, with Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach, set in the 1630s, when tulipomania has seized the populace. Everywhere men are seduced by the fantastic exotic flower. Sophia’s husband Cornelis is one of the lucky ones grown rich from this exotic new flower. To celebrate, he commissions a talented young artist to paint him with his beautiful bride.
My fourth link is to another artist in Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett. Hans Holbein was commissioned to paint Sir Thomas More’s family portrait. The book tells the story of More’s adopted daughter, Meg Giggs and her love for two men – John Clements, the family’s former tutor, and Hans Holbein.
Hans Holbein also appears in Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, the second book in her Wolf Hall trilogy. He has painted Thomas Cromwell’s portrait, which he had on the wall at his house at Austin Friars. When he saw it, Cromwell said, ‘Christ I look like a murderer‘.
So that brings me to my final link – a murderer. Bodies – dead bodies – appear in many of the books I read and one of my favourite Agatha Christie mysteries has several. It’s The ABC Murders in which Poirot investigates a series of murders that are advertised in advance by letters sent to him, and signed by an anonymous ‘ABC’. An ABC Railway is left next to each of the bodies.
My chain begins with two sisters and ends with a on of my favourite murder mysteries, linking together siblings, characters called Charlie, Amsterdam, Hans Holbein and murder. It travels from the USA to the UK, crosses over to the Netherlands then returns to the UK, beginning and ending in the 20th century and visiting the 16th and 17th centuries on the way
Next month (June 5 2021), we’ll start with the winner of the 2021 Stella Prize, The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld.