Six Degrees of Separation: Beezus and Ramona

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is:

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

I’m the right age to have read some of the late Cleary’s many books – she started publishing in the 1950s. But my childhood reading at the younger end was mostly Euro-centric and fairytale based with no Americans. I did, naturally, move onto all those classic American girl’s books (Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, What Katy Did, Louisa May Alcott etc) later. Consequently Clearly and Beezus and Ramona, although published in 1955 has totally passed me by.

As for a link, the first thing that came into my head was to rhyme a word from the title, but no Sharonas or Pomonas in my lists. But, I did have something that rhymes with Beezus

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman

Naturally, as you might expect, Pullman’s entry in the Canongate Myths series caused quite a controversy! Storytelling is something that Philip Pullman cares about very much –  he told the audience so at the Oxford Literary Festival which I went to, (link here). It is also immediately apparent when you start to read this book.  The language is very straight-forward, with few embellishments and descriptive touches – simple almost, as you might expect from an author who has written so much fantastic fiction for children. Superfluities have been pared away to the plot only. The back cover reminds us – This is a  story – that’s all. This deceptive simplicity instead generates intensity and a longing to read on.   From the very first sentence you know you’re in for something a little different …

This is the story of Jesus and his brother Christ, of how they were born, of how they lived and of how one of them died.

Rhymes with Christ are few and far between, but rhyming with scoundrel leads to…

The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm

Translated from the Norwegian by Anna Paterson, as this short novel opens, an American woman wakes up in a tent in a remote mountain region of Norway. She is completely alone, without means of communication. As the storm rages outside, she contemplates death. This startlingly bleak opening is followed by a more normal scenario. Jane Ashland, a writer, is on a plane to Norway where she will stay with some distant relations; new family, a new location to hopefully distract her from her writer’s block.  She makes friends with her neighbour on the plane, Ulf, who invites her to join him on his expedition to observe musk oxen should she need to escape.  Finding it impossible to fit in with her relatives, Jane takes Ulf up on his offer, in spite of their all too brief acquaintance.

Well written but rather depressing. Still rhyming with Jane is…

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

I do wish Ness would write more novels for adults, for this, his only one so far was lovely. The Crane Wife is the story of George, a good man who inspires loyalty in those around him, but needs direction in his mid-life. One night he wakes to find an injured white crane in his garden. He breaks the arrow through its wing, rescuing it, and it flies away. When the mysterious Kumiko, an artist, appears at his print shop dressed in white, they start dating. She appears to be the answer to all that is missing in his life. What’s more, his paper cutting complements her intricate collages made from feathers. Interwoven into the contemporary story is that of an old Japanese folk tale re-told by Ness, about an unlikely love story between a crane and a volcano.

All beautifully done. Rhyming with wife is…

A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge

It’s always great when I can fit a Beryl book into the mix. A Quiet Life isn’t one of my favourite Beryl’s being rather more dour and lacking the humour that most of her novels have. But as a portrait of a northern family at war with itself in the 1950s, it is a kitchen sink drama of class war and post-war depression, as always written with her trademark economy. 

Quiet of course, rhymes with …

The Diet Myth by Tim Spector

Spector, the research doctor who fronts the ‘Zoe Covid’ app, has primarily been involved with twin studies over the years, but also in the field of nutrition. In The Diet Myth, he takes us through the real science of all the different food groups and how they affect the body and our gut microbiome. This book was absolutely fascinating, well-written, educational and inspiring in how to eat more healthily.

I heartily recommend it, and my final link is through myth, which rhymes with…

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

This novel is set in the Vatican City during the twilight of the pontificate of John Paul II, who has a starring cameo to play in the closing stages. It also involves the Turin Shroud and is a theological murder mystery featuring a pair of brothers, priests – one of whom has converted from the ‘Greek’ Orthodox church to the full Catholic one. An historical note, without which I’d have been completely lost, sets the scene for the relationship between the original Greek and Roman branches of Christianity who split around 1000 yrs ago (the Great Schism of 1054, I learned later). Complex and overlong, there was a good thriller trying to get out somewhere.

My six degrees this month have skirted around religion and myth, depression and drama, with some healthy eating thrown in for a little balance! Where will your six degrees take you?

11 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Beezus and Ramona

  1. Mareli Thalwitzer says:

    Now that’s what makes Six Degrees one of my favorite Memes too! It’s so interesting to see where everyone’s mind go with this. Your chain is very far fetched, but it works perfectly well!! Good job.

    May you have a wonderful May!

    Elza Reads

  2. margaret21 says:

    I’ve only read (and enjoyed) the Pullman from your great chain, but you’ve reminded me how long it is since I’ve read a Beryl Bainbridge – and here’s one I don’t know.

  3. Lexlingua says:

    I love how you’ve used the rhyme sequence to link up the books! Very innovative indeed. First, I just wanted to talk about the cover of Diet Myth — it’s been so well done, I almost thought you’d posted an image of food you’d recently bought! 😂And thanks for talking about The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, I’d wondered what that was about. I’m guessing the controversy was as big as that over Da Vinci Code.

  4. rosemarykaye says:

    What a clever chain – I wish I thought more laterally sometimes!

    I haven’t read any of these books, but I’m interested in the Bainbridge – it’s years since I read any of hers. The Fifth Gospel sounds intriguing too. I’m not sure I could cope with any more Patrick Ness – still haven’t quite forgiven him for Manchee! But I heard him speak at he Edinburgh Book Festival a few years ago and he was wonderful, so much empathy and kindness.

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