Six Degrees of Separation from Our Wives Under the Sea to Five Little Pigs

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.

The starting book is Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield:

I haven’t read Our Wives Under the Sea. It’s about Leah and Miri, a married couple, whose relationship hits difficulties when Leah returns home after a three month absence on a deep sea mission and has changed. It seems to me like a variation on the mermaid folklore tales.

Leah is also a character in The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon set in London in 1924, with Britain still coming to terms with the aftermath of the First World War. Evelyn Gifford, one of the few pioneer female lawyers takes on the case of Leah Marchant, whose children had been taken into care. It’s early days for women to be accepted as lawyers and Evelyn struggles to defend Leah who distrusts her and wants Daniel Breen, Evelyn’s boss to defend her.

Earth and Heaven by Sue Gee, a novel about a painter and his family is also set in the aftermath of the First World War. The back cover reveals that it is a ‘detailed portrayal of an era which refuses to become part of the past, even today.’ I bought this book because I’d read and enjoyed Sue Gee’s novel The Hours of the Night.

In The Hours of the Night, also by Sue Gee, Gillian Traherne and her mother Phoebe lead a remote existence in their grey, stone house on the Welsh borders. Gillian is a loner, an eccentric poet in her thirties, who has a difficult relationship with her very different mother: a well-known and expert gardener. Into their strange and secluded world, described with beautifully observed detail, come strangers from London to disrupt life as Gillian knows it.

Another author with the surname Gee is Maggie Gee.In her novel, My Cleaner, Vanessa, white, middle-class and totally self-absorbed asks Mary, black, and equally selfish, to return from Uganda to help look after Justin, Vanessa’s 22 year old son. Mary had worked as Vanessa’s cleaner 10 years earlier, but their relationship has changed and the balance of power between the two women shifts as the story reaches its climax. 

Another character who is also a cleaner called Mary is in Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Mary Blakiston was an unpleasant character, who lived in the village of Saxby-on-Avon. She was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at Pye Hall. Magpie Murders is a novel within a novel. The inner story is a whodunnit, a murder mystery and the chapter headings are taken from the rhyme One for Sorrow’ in the same way that Agatha Christie used rhymes for chapter headings in some of her books.

One of Agatha Christie’s books using lines from a nursery rhyme in some of the chapters and in its title is Five Little Pigs – ‘this little pig went to market, this little pig stayed at home …’. In it Poirot investigates a crime that had been committed sixteen years earlier. The convicted murderer’s daughter is convinced her mother was innocent.

My chain began with a novel about an underwater mission that went wrong and ended up with a murder mystery, in which it is claimed the wrong person was found guilty. The books are a mix of historical and crime fiction, and contemporary fiction.

Next month (May 7, 2022), we’ll start with Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang.

20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation from Our Wives Under the Sea to Five Little Pigs

  1. This is such an interesting chain, and in fact on the strength of it, I’ve just reserved Earth and Heaven from the library – and made a note of your other choices too.

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    1. Thanks, Davida. I didn’t think about using water as the connection – as soon as I saw one of the characters was called Leah I thought of The Crimson Rooms and then the chain just followed on.

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      1. I hear you. I’ve already written next month’s post because I knew exactly what book it connected to from the title and the blurb I read! Once I get started with writing these, I can’t stop until I’m done!

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  2. What a clever chain, Margaret! And Sue Gee’s work looks interesting; I may have to look it up. Glad to see, too, that you have the Horowitz here; I enjoyed that novel. And I think Five Little Pigs is one of Christie’s better novels. You really have some great choices herre!

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    1. Thanks, Margot! There was a lot I liked about Five Little Pigs – the plot and the way it is structured, the characterisation, the dialogue, and Agatha Christie’s fluent style of writing. And I think the solution is convincing and satisfying. Yes, it is one of her better books.

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  3. I enjoyed Magpie Murders and Five Little Pigs. I haven’t read any of the other books in your chain, but I’ve read another book by Sue Gee – The Mysteries of Glass.

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  4. Great links! I thought I wasn’t going to have read any of your picks this month till you got to Magpie Murders and then ended with a Christie – and there can be no better way to end a chain than that! 😀

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