Six Degrees of Separation: Normal People

My favourite monthly tag, 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 the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. Our starting book this month is:

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I haven’t read this yet, but it is in my ‘Bedside Bookcase’, and thus could be one of my ’20 Books of Summer 20′. One thing I noticed about the book is its lovely endpapers featuring the sardine can ringpull from the front cover. Another book with gorgeous endpapers is:

Normal People endpapers

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

Another book which is in my TBR – but which I should promote maybe as it concerns a man who agrees to self-isolate in a suite of rooms for seven years with no external social contact. However, I am judging books by their covers this month, and there are loads of flowers its cover, which leads me to the graphic flowers here…

Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh

One of my favourite pieces of TV ever, Mike Leigh’s 1977 play started out in the theatre before transferring to the small screen under the ‘Play for Today’ umbrella. Penguin reissued the original theatre script for its 40th anniversary, replete with a 1970s wallpaper design on the cover. This play is still hilarious and cringemaking and shocking as a group of adults have a cocktail party while the kids are at another house. I’m sticking with the flowers, but going even more stylised to:

The Forensic Records Society by Magnus Mills

While I adore all of Magnus Mills’s novels, this was possibly the weakest for me, but what a concept. A group of chaps gather weekly to sit and listen to vinyl singles. They have a rather rigid format, and when someone starts a rival record club, the apple-cart is truly upset. I loved the way Bloomsbury produced this book as 7inch single size – underneath the dustjacket with the sleeve on, the black vinyl is on the book’s boards. Great fun. This leads me to another music format

French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain

I’ve also enjoyed all of French author Antoine Laurain’s novels, but this one is perhaps my favourite. It concerns a lost letter which brings a bittersweet surprise to the ex-members of a band who had hoped to get a record contract when they sent out their demo tape 33 years previously. Can Alain find the tape, can he get the band back together? Very, very enjoyable. A cassette tape also features on the cover of…

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

One of these days I’ll get around to actually reading a David Mitchell book. I have this one on the shelf as a signed hardback too. The cover also features a golden apple, and fruit will be my final link to another extraordinary book cover.

Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway

I can’t say I like this cover, but it is striking – as is the book. Describing it is not easy though. If I said it’s an existential drama about the lives of two police detectives told through a series of mostly linked short stories about characters that come into and out of their lives, I’d be doing it a disservice in trying to categorise it at all. I can say that although it features policemen, it is not a crime novel, but a novel in which crimes happen. It’s strange, and I would re-read it (skipping the rather in-yer-face gay orgy scene though!)

Having lurked around all of these book’s covers I shall delve into the text for one final link to bring us back to where we started. Hawthorn & Child is full of snappy dialogue which is unencumbered by he said / she saids and speechmarks, which is also very much Sally Rooney’s style.

Where will your six degrees take you?

23 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Normal People

  1. kimbofo says:

    Some great books here with such intriguing cover art! I agree about the Magnus Mills: a great concept for a novel but not his best.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      ‘Little top-up?’ – my mum always used to say that in Steadman-style after seeing Abigail’s party.

  2. Café Society says:

    Like Margaret, I loved Abigail’s Party, and have been a fan of Mike Leigh’s ever since. I’m going to be interested in what you think about The Bone Clocks, my second favourite Mitchell, I think. I still prefer The Thousand Autumns.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      If you loved Abigail’s Party, I can recommend the more recent Sally Potter film – The Party – with Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas and others. Very darkly funny middle-class satire. I really should read some David Mitchell – I’ll do Cloud Atlas first with Rebecca below to start I think though.

      • Café Society says:

        I only got halfway through Cloud Atlas. I seem to remember I was trying to read it at a time when I was very busy at work and hadn’t got enough little grey cells to keep control of both what was happening in the book and what was going on at the University. Maybe I should try again as well.

  3. A Life in Books says:

    Such an interesting theme, Annabel. I have a bit of a thing about jackets fitting their books (they so often don’t) but I thought The Warlow Experiment’s cover was perfect, both beautiful and appropriate with its depiction of insects destroying the gorgeous fruit and flowers. The Hawthorn and Child cover is wonderful, too.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I particularly love it when publishers do beautiful endpapers like the Warlow ones. There’s no need for them, like a map etc as we sometimes get on endpapers, but they enhance the physical book so much – something e-books can’t do! 😀

  4. Cathy746books says:

    Great list here Annabel, featuring some of my favourites. The Bone Clocks is a treat, I loved it. Hawthorn and Child is one of my favourite books of the last few years. Nicely done!

  5. Rebecca Foster says:

    I love the covers and endpapers! I failed with The Warlow Experiment earlier this year but might try again sometime. I’m surprised you haven’t read anything by Mitchell. He’s one of my husband’s favourite authors. He seems like he’d be right up your street, especially his upcoming book. I’ve read two by him, but they were in some ways the odd ones out: The Thousand Autumns (historical fiction) and Slade House (a short ghost story). I plan to read Cloud Atlas as my doorstopper for August if you’re interested in joining me. The Bookshop Band played their song about The Bone Clocks at their lockdown concert last night. It sounds intriguingly bizarre.

  6. iliana says:

    Ooh those endpapers are beautiful. Love the way you linked your books. It’s so interesting to see the different books that have been linked. I have certainly found more books for my TBR lists.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      If you’ve not read Antoine Laurain you’re in for a treat. I’ve loved all his books, although his latest Vintage 1954 was the weakest but still fun. French Rhapsody is super, stays the right side of Gallic whimsy.

  7. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    What an interesting collection of titles. I have less than a handful of books with end papers, though to be fair I have few hardcover books. The cover of The Forensic Records Society would definitely entice me to pick it up.
    Thanks for sharing your chain

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      That Magnus Mills isn’t his best novel, but the design of the book was glorious (if expensive though for the hardback which is long novella length), but he is one of my favourite authors and I had to have it!

Leave a Reply