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 Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. I like books on grammar and punctuation! I love her examples and the wrong use of the apostrophe in “its/it’s” infuriates me, although not quite as as much as it does her:
No matter if you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, “Good food at it’s best”, you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.
My first link is Henry James – Washington Square. It’s all about will /won’t Catherine Sloper and Morris Townsend get married. Catherine lives at home in Washington Square with her father, the wealthy Dr Sloper. I found it rather tedious and repetitive as Catherine grew older, constantly in conflict with her father over whether she should marry Morris. Her father describes her as ‘ about as intelligent as the bundle of shawls.’
Thinking of shawls provides my next link – is The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas, a dual time-line romantic novel about a beautiful handmade shawl. It’s set in Wales in the present day and in the Himalayas and Kashmir in the 1940s . The story switches between Mair’s journey and that of Nerys Watkins, her grandmother, a missionary’s wife, living in India during the Second World War.
Kashmir is my third link, with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. The novel begins in Old Delhi then moves into the new metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forests of Central India. After a good beginning I struggled with this book because there is so much description, so little plot and such a large cast of characters. It’s a book about love and loss, death and survival, grief, pain and poverty. It made the 2017 Booker Prize longlist.
My fourth link is to Arundhati Roy‘s first book, The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997. Set in Kerala this is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence. I loved this book, but as I read it before I began my blog I haven’t reviewed it.
Small is also in the title of Susan Hill’s novella, The Small Hand, a sad and mournful ghost story about Adam Snow, a dealer in antiquarian books and manuscripts who got lost on his way home from visiting a client when he came across a derelict Edwardian house. It was there in the garden that he had a strange experience in which he felt a small hand creep into his right one.
So that brings me to the end of my chain linking back to the opening book with another book by Lynne Truss – Talk to the Hand. I haven’t reviewed this book as it’s another one I read before I began my blog. It’s about the rudeness of modern society, or as she describes it ‘unashamedly, a big long moan about modern life … including automated switchboards, customer service, mobile phone abuse, littering, and telling strangers to Eff off.‘ You can see more about why she wrote the book on her website.
My chain begins with a book about punctuation and ends with one about rudeness by the same author. It’s a circle which came about quite by chance as I moved from one link to the next, not knowing where it would end! The links are Henry James, shawls, Kashmir, books by Arundhati Roy, books with ‘small’ in the title and also ‘hand’, moving from the UK, travelling through the US, Kashmir and India and then back to the UK.
They are all books I’ve read – and, for a change, my chain does not include any crime fiction!
Next month, on the 7 August 2021 (my birthday), we’ll start with Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher.