Six Degrees of Separation from Notes on a Scandal to Gray Mountain

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 miningGray 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.

17 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation from Notes on a Scandal to Gray Mountain

  1. Your chain includes one of my all time favourite books, Kate Grenville’s The idea of perfection – and I love how you linked your way to it. I also enjoyed your going from New South Wales to South Wales! Cheeky but good! I’ve only read the Grenville, but have heard of most, and have seen the movie of How green was my valley.

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    1. Thanks! I loved the setting of The Idea of Perfection. Grenville paints such vivid and detailed a picture of the town and its surrounding countryside that I could feel the heat and dust and easily visualise it all.

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  2. I really like the way you’ve used title words for your chain, Margaret! I was glad to see the Grenville in your list; what a talented author! And I think Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series is excellent, too. Some fine choices this time!

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  3. I’ve read two from your chain this month – How Green Was My Valley, which I loved, and Pictures at an Exhibition. I would like to read The Idea of Perfection; I still haven’t read anything by Kate Grenville but her books always sound good.

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    1. How Green Was My Valley is one of those books I’ve had on my TBR shelves for ages, I really must read it soon. I think Kate Greville’s books are great – I do recommend them.

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  4. The starting point is also not a book that I would easily read and I haven’t seen the movie either.

    Of your list, I know How Green was my valley and I haven’t read Gray Mountain by Grisham, but I’m sure I will somewhere as I love all his books.

    Have a wonderful October!

    Elza Reads

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  5. Oh, a great chain. Gale and Grenville are both writers who never let me down, and the Llewellyn is a blast from the past for me too. How come this Yorkshire lass hasn’t come across Reginald Hill before? Lots to think about here!

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  6. I like how you travelled with your chain this time; How Green Was My Valley has been on my TBR for long, but I still haven’t gotten to it despite having planned to read it for Paula’s Dewithon. Dalziel and Pascoe are also on my list to read; I had seen bits of the TV adaptation but yet to read any of the books.

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