Six Degrees of Separation: The Arsonist

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in titles will take you to my reviews. So without further ado, our starting book this month is …

The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper

Sadly, this book isn’t out in the UK until May, but it’s gone on my wishlist. An Australian true-crime story of fire in Australia and the firebug that started the one in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley in 2009. Sounds really compelling. My link shall be via ‘Hooper‘ which leads me to:

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

To those of us living in the UK, it probably seems inconceivable that you can live a whole life without ever seeing the sea. It is this unfulfilled dream that prompts Etta, at the age of eighty-two, to leave her home in Saskatchewan early one morning and start a 2,000 mile walk to the ocean. In recent years, there have been several novels that feature old folk going on long journeys, most notably The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, a deserved best-seller in the UK. Hooper’s book is not just a Canadian version of this one; it shares a broad theme – no more. Its sweep and quirkiness made it entirely different. A little twee perhaps, but I enjoyed it. My link will be to another book with four names in the title:

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice by Patricia Welles

This is the novelisation of Paul Marzursky’s hit 1969 comedy film about two couples who decide to try swinging. It starred Elliot Gould, Natalie Wood, Robert Culp and Dyan Cannon. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but its title is always popping up all over the place. My link shall be via swinging to:

The Ice Storm by Rick Moody

Read pre-blog, I bought Moody’s second novel, published in 1994 purely on the basis of the UK cover which features one of my all time heroes – no, not Tricky Dicky or Spidey! – David Cassidy of course! Set over 24hrs in 1973 when a major storm hits a Connecticut town, two families are spiralling out of control. I remember enjoying the novel, but also the film which has a memorable scene in which the parents are at a party and through their car keys in a bowl; I can’t remember whether this was in the book, but the film had a star cast including Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire and Elijah Wood. One to re-watch/re-read. My link is via the gorgeous David Cassidy to:

I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson

This book, a romantic comedy, will appeal to anyone who’s had a teenage crush on an unobtainable fantasy figure.  Set in the 1970s again, it is the story of two teenaged girls who love David Cassidy, and want to win a quiz prize to meet their idol after his last UK concert. The only problem is they are in Wales, and the concert is in London… Intertwined is the story of Bill, a journalist who has to be the voice of Cassidy in the teenybopper magazine he’s ended up working for. A fabulous fun novel. One of Cassidy’s number one hits was Daydreamer, which will be my link to:

The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan

One of the few McEwans I’ve yet to read, this slim volume is a story cycle of episodes from the life of Peter Fortune, who according to the blurb … “dreams about swapping bodies with his cat and with his baby cousin, but he gets so lost he’s unsure where one fantasy finishes and the next begins. Cartwheeling through these transformations, Peter eventually finds himself in an adult body experiencing the adventure of falling in love.” I’ve added it to my wishlist. But I’ll finish with another cat cover:

If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

An understated Japanese comedy with deep themes, this novel totally captivated me. A young man is told he has a terminal illness, but the devil appears (in an Hawaiian shirt!) and says if he bans one thing from the world, he can have an extra day of life and so on. The novel goes on to explore this Faustian compact and its consequences, yet manages to maintain a light touch that made it a delight to read. I totally recommend this one.


So my six degrees have taken me from the starting point of Australia, to Canada and over the border into the USA, across the Atlantic to the UK before ending up in  Japan, with some interesting themes which seem to circle around fulfillment or the lack of, whether in real life or dreams.

Where will your six degrees take you?

14 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: The Arsonist

  1. I love your chain, Anna and am particularly drawn to the Kawamura. As Lisa says, you can’t beat a good Faustian-themed story!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Any opportunity to muse about DC is worth it. Pearson’s book is actually very good, and funny, indeed.

  2. I haven’t read any of your books but I did see the film, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice many years ago and as far as I remember it was funny. The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan sounds very strange – and by coincidence I included McEwan’s Saturday. If Cats Disappeared from the World interest me the most.

  3. You must be close to my generation… perhaps few years older. I think I was more interested in Parker Stevenson, who played one of the Hardy Boys alongside David Cassidy’s younger brother Shaun. As for your links, I love how varied they are. And I think I’ll add If Cats Disappeared from the World to my to-read list.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I never watched the Hardy Boys – it was the Partridge Family for me! The Kawamura book is wonderful.

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