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. This month our starting book is:
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
A book I’ve not read, but one which comes recommended by many including Rebecca, it’s on my wishlist and I’ll look out for it in the library. A ‘what if?’ alternate history, it imagines if Hill hadn’t married Bill. I so hope that American voters come to their senses in the upcoming elections – Hillary was certainly robbed last time, and the USA got you-know-who. So, for my links this month, I’m going to lead a cheer for the lady who should have won. Give us an…
R – Ragnarok by AS Byatt
For her contribution to the Canongate Myths series, Byatt retells Norse myths from a child’s point of view – A thin young girl is evacuated during WWII. She is missing her father and struggling to understand her enforced relocation. One day she is given a copy of an old book about the Norse myths, and it transforms her life, allowing her to transport her worries and make sense of everything. All of life is to be found in Asgard and the Gods (a real book, that Byatt herself loved reading as a child too.
O – Outlandish Knight by Minoo Dinshaw
This super intense and chunky biography of Byzantine scholar Steven Runciman shouldn’t have worked for me – but it did, strangely. Runciman’s life spanned almost the entire 20th century, and he was extremely well-connected – he knew everyone who was anyone it seems – he went to Hollywood as a historical advisor on a film in the 1950s. So the history was leavened with name-dropping and made the book an entertaining as well as educative read. This book was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writers Award in 2017, the year I was on the Shadow Judges panel. I got to meet its author, Minoo, who was delightful!
D – Deadland by William Shaw
William Shaw is one of my favourite crime authors, and his series featuring DS Alexandra Cupidi are superb. Set in Kent around the flatness of Dungeness and the marshes, Shaw’s sense of place is brilliant. He is also great at integrating issues of the day into his plots. This one goes from the Turner Contemporary art museum in Margate to two young teenage layabouts being on the run for their lives when they steal a mobile from the wrong man.
H – Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment
This is a smart and witty New York novel about dogs and downsizing, featuring one weekend in the life of an ageing couple and their beloved old dachshund, Dorothy. Ruth and Alex are loveable and crotchety; Ruth frets, Alex wise-cracks – Ciment portrays them well without too much sentimentality. For me, however, the star of this charming novel was Dorothy, who has her own very real perception of everything that’s happening to her. A lovely book.
A – All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
It was a relief to find that Whitaker’s second novel was as good as his first. All the Wicked Girls has a large ensemble cast who display all the traits you expect in small-town America, Alabama this time. High school girls have been going missing, Summer Ryan is the latest and her sister Raine is on the case, together with her two best friends, Noah and Purv ‘with a u’. Whitaker alternates narration between Summer (up to the time she went missing) and the others, cleverly building up a rather different picture of what happened.
M – Moskva by Jack Grimwood
I’ll finish this month with another super thriller, set in the USSR in the mid-1980s – Mikhail Gorbachev is now in power, and the climate is changing from the Stalinist past. Into this comes Major Tom Fox, a soldier with a past, who will lead the search when the British ambassador’s daughter goes missing. The opening scene is a wonderful homage to Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith, and it continues from there to become a labyrnthine spy-crime thriller.
R-O-D-H-A-M – RODHAM!!!
My cheerleading has taken me from the Norse Gods & the company of a historian to Kent and across the pond to NYC & Alabama before ending back in the USSR.
Where would your six degrees take you?