Sunday 7 June 2020

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Books are my Favourite and Best.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

This month's Six Degrees begins with Normal People by Sally Rooney.

I'll use the Amazon blurb to describe this one:

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation - awkward but electrifying - something life-changing begins.

This is a major new TV series too but I haven't seen it and probably will not read the book which, as the blurb states, is set in the Republic of Ireland. As is:

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy is a delightful book about a motley group of people taking Italian at evening class. Their main reason for doing so is to travel to Italy. The same aim that three people in my next book have.

Summer at the Lake is about a disparate group of new friends who also travel to Italy for different reasons, a wedding, to bring back memories etc. Another book with 'Summer' in the title is:

Summer Half by Angela Thirkell. This is one of my favourite Thirkells, set in a school, but with all the humour and insight you would normally expect from one her gorgeous novels.

Also set in a school is:

Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey concerns Miss Pym who goes to give a lecture at a college for female prospective PE teachers and ends up staying to investigate a murder. A superb book and I've liked all of her books apart from Brat Farrar which I've yet to read.

Another book where a single lady of mature years investigates a murder is:

A Murder is Announced is, of course, a Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie. This one is set in the small village of Chipping Cleghorn - in The Cotswolds I would assume with a name like that - and as such was an absolutely delightful study of village life. I loved this little quote and still do:

"Miss Marple gave the [shop] window her rapt attention, and Mr. Elliot, an elderly obese spider, peeped out of his web to appraise the possibilities of this new fly"

How brilliant is that?

So today my Six Degrees post has taken me on a trip from Ireland to Italy and thence to rural England during three decades, the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The first book was called Normal People and it strikes me that every book I've chosen this time is about just that... normal, ordinary people just doing their thing.

Next month will begin with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.



(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This looks like a fun meme - I've only read Normal People from your list.

Rosemary said...

Very interesting links Cath - I've never taken part in this before as I don't think I really understood how it works, nut now that you've enlightened me I might give it a go next time - though 'What I Loved' might be a bit of a challenge.

Great to see another Maeve Binchy, Erica James and (of course!) Angela Thirkell fan too. I haven't read an Agatha Christie for a while and not sure I've ever read this one - but that brilliant quote has whetted my appetite, I wonder if I have that one on my shelves?

The one author I've not read on your list is Sally Rooney - I know she is currently very popular, but I don't feel that keen to read Normal People. (Neither have I seen it.)

Thanks for this.

Sam said...

Nicely done, Cath. I still haven't tried one of those but it looks like something that would be fun to do because of its unpredictability. The end result probably surprises you as much as it surprises the rest of us.

Cath said...

Diane: Normal People is the only one I 'haven't' read. And, to be honest, I'm not sure it's for me.

Rosemary: Yes, it's very simple. You just start with the book the meme host tells you to use and go off in your own direction linking it to whatever you like. I agree about What I Loved, I haven't read it (I don't think I've read any of the start-off books yet) but I think it's set in New York so I'll probably link to another book set there. Possibly A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

I'm new to Maeve Binchy and Erica James but definitely plan to read more by them. I do think Agatha Christie was a better writer than she was given credit for. And her autobiography is one of the best I've ever read.

You're not alone, I shan't be reading (or watching) Normal People either.

Sam: Thank you. Yes, I'm always surprised where I end up, the journey is quite bizarre sometimes.

TracyK said...

Cath, this is a great chain. The last book in your chain is one of my favorite Miss Marple mysteries. I have not read anything by Thirkell and I am thinking about trying her books.

Val said...

What a delightful post. Especially enjoyable to me as A Murder is... is my favourite Christie and the Tey and Thirkell are old favourites as well ...which means the temptation of Evening class seems quite reasonable and onto my list it goes! lovely

Cath said...

Tracy: Thanks! I find it quite interesting constructing these chains. Gives my brain a bit of exercise. Angela Thirkell will remind you a little bit of E.M. Delafield, not as funny but written with a wry wit and very observant and of the same time period of course.

Val: Thank you. How funny that you've read three of these and that they're old favourites. Evening Class really took me surprise, was not expecting to like it as much as I did.

CLM said...

Well, I have read four of these - all authors I enjoy. I spent one summer reading every Thirkell there was and about ten years later collected all of them. It would be nice to reread them but my goal this summer (besides work and the one class I am taking) is to work on the piles of books I own that could possibly be given away after I read them!

Marg said...

I have read a couple of Josephine Tey books but not this one!

Cath said...

CLM: Spending a whole summer reading Angela Thirkell sounds idyllic to me! I'm working my way through them slowly, I own a few and have a couple on my Kindle. Eventually I want to read them all.

Yes, that's what I'm trying to do... spend the summer reading books I do not want to keep thus lowering the tbr mountain. Good to have a plan but whether it will work is another matter.

Marg: Miss Pym is a superb standalone, well worth a look.

CLM said...

My plan might have worked but the libraries are starting to open again, at least for curbside delivery although I could not get an appointment this week. I have 49 books on hold but a few are for my nephews.

Cath said...

CLM: LOL... the best laid plans and all that. Our libraries are still not open so I'm ploughing on with my own books and am pretty pleased with my progress. 49? Wow.