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 this month is Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller. I haven’t read it. It’s about a teacher at a London comprehensive school who has an illicit affair with an underage pupil. It was shortlisted by the 2003 Booker Prize and there’s a film version too, which I’ve not seen either.
I’m not immediately drawn to read it, so for my First Link I’m using the word ‘Notes‘ in the title:
Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale. Artist Rachel Kelly, a manic-depressive, subject to highs and lows is found dead in her Penzance studio, leaving her family with lots of unanswered questions. It becomes clear that her Quaker husband knew nothing about her early life.
My Second Link is also via the title, this time using the word ‘Exhibition‘ – Pictures at an Exhibition by Camilla Macpherson. This is structured around Daisy’s letters to her cousin Elizabeth telling her about the paintings on display at London’s National Gallery during the war years. It’s a dual time period novel moving between the present day and the Second World War,
My Third Link is via the word ‘pictures‘ in the title – Pictures of Perfection by Reginald Hill. Set high in the Mid-Yorkshire Dales in the traditional village of Enscombe, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe investigate the disappearance of a policeman. As they dig beneath the veneer of idyllic village life a pattern emerges of family feuds, ancient injuries, cheating and lies. And finally, as the community gathers for the traditional Squire’s Reckoning, it looks as if the simmering tensions will erupt in a bloody climax.
Still using a word in the title my Fourth Link is the word ‘Perfection‘ in The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, which won the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction. The title indicates the theme of the book with the characters all falling short of the impossible aim of perfection. Set in Karakarook, in New South Wales the two main characters are Douglas Cheeseman, an engineer who has come to pull down a quaint old bent bridge before it falls down and Harley Savage, who has come to advise the residents how to promote their inheritance.
My Fifth Link is a bit of a leap as I’m moving away from a book set in New South Wales to one set in South Wales – How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn – a story of life in a mining community in rural South Wales as Huw Morgan is preparing to leave the valley where he had grown up. It tells of life before the First World War.
My Sixth Link is to another book about mining – Gray Mountain by John Grisham. This book is just as much a campaign against injustice and the misuse of power, about the good little guys against the big bad guys as his earlier books are. In this case it’s the big coal companies that come under the microscope, in particular companies that are ruining the environment by strip-mining in the Appalachian mountains.
My chain this month has travelled from London through Cornwall, to New South Wales and Wales to the Appalachian Mountains – quite a journey!
Next month (November 5, 2022), we’ll start with a cookbook – The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver.