Six Degrees of Separation from The Naked Chef to Broken Homes

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 The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, his first book published in 1999. Just look how young he looked when he was 25. We bought the book and watched the TV programme and since then we’ve carried on watching and buying his books. Of course, he wasn’t naked but had stripped down his recipes to the basics.

My First link is to not any of Jamie Oliver’s book but to Neil Oliver’s book The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places – described on the book jacket inside cover as ‘a broad sweep of British history and landscape’. I’ve enjoyed watching Neil Oliver’s TV documentaries and his book looks just as informative, encompassing our earliest history, via Romans and Vikings, civil war, industrial revolution and two world wars, looking at the places that he considers to be the most characteristic of our history, with many colour photographs. The last one in his book is Dungeness, a place he describes as ‘the most unforgettable location in Britain‘.

My Second Link is The Birdwatcher by William Shaw. It’s set in Dungeness on the Kent coast, a wind-swept shingle beach close to the Nuclear Power Station and Romney. Sergeant William South is a birdwatcher a methodical and quiet man. Alternating with the present day story is the story of Billy, a thirteen year old living in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’. 

Using the Troubles in Northern Ireland my Third Link is Turning for Home by Barney Norris. The narration is split between Robert and Kate interspersed with extracts from the Boston Tapes, an oral history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland recording the recollections of combatants on both sides. Robert’s day is interrupted by a phone call from Frank, a retired Oxford professor, whom he had known from his days as a civil servant working in Ireland.

My Fourth Link is to The Riddle of the Fourth Mile by Colin Dexter, a murder mystery involving two more Oxford professors. When a dismembered and headless corpse is found in the Oxford Canal it could have been that of Morse’s his old classics tutor, Browne-Smith or Browne-Smith’s hated rival, Westerby. This is a most complicated mystery, one of the ‘puzzle’ types.

My Fifth Link also has a headless corpse. It’s Rivers of London by Ben Aaranovich. In this book a headless corpse is found in front of the West Portico of St Paul’s at Convent Garden. Peter Grant is a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard in this urban fantasy novel – a fast-paced police procedural of a very different kind. He lives in the Folly in Russell Square with DCI Thomas Nightingale who is his mentor. Molly who is fae (a type of fairy) is the housekeeper, chef, and butler.

My Sixth Link – Molly is also in Broken Homes (the 4th book in the Rivers of London series). Her culinary skills are legendary but after Peter’s  arrival at the Folly Molly introduced more modern cuisine onto the menu, partially through their gifts of modern cookbooks and partially through her own hard work. Her current cooking and baking appears to be inspired by both Jamie Oliver and The Great British Bake Off.This then completes the circle linking back to the starting book, The Naked Chef.

My chain this month starts with Jamie Oliver’s cookery book and ends with a book in which one of the character’s cooking is inspired by Jamie Oliver, travelling through non-fiction, crime fiction and urban fantasy novels.

Next month (3 December, 2022), we’ll start with The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation from The Naked Chef to Broken Homes

  1. An appetising chain. Both the Neil Oliver and the William Shaw appeal, and I have just borrowed the Norris from the library. Rivers of London has been sitting on my shelf, unread, for a year or two. You compel me to do something about this now. Thank you!

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    1. I’d had Rivers of London for three years before I read it. And when I finally began reading I found I just didn’t want to put it down. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it so much, but I was completely engrossed in this book right from the beginning. I hope you’ll love it too.

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  2. Nice chain with a great final link back. I love Shaw’s books, but strangely I haven’t read The Birdwatcher yet – ought to – I have a copy he signed for me from a visit to our local bookshop – with a little bird doodle too!

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  3. Oh, this is a great chain, Margaret! Not just Jamie Oliver, but Colin Dexter and Ben Aaronovitch – authors I enjoy. And I do like the non-fiction you’ve included here. It makes for a really interesting set of books!

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  4. Well done for bringing your chain full circle – I somehow did it by accident this month! I haven’t read any of the books in your chain, but I do have a copy of the Neil Oliver book.

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  5. We love Neil Oliver so that is an interesting first link for me! I read the first Rivers of London book years ago but never made it any further. The series is calling me over and over now!

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  6. I like how you ranged over a wide terrain of links and then neatly closed the circle, Margaret. Very clever! Dungeness is one of my favourite places and I read The Birdwatcher while staying there a few years ago. I have several more of Shaw’s books here. I really must get around to them!

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