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 – the starting book is:
Sanditon by Jane Austen
I’ve not read Austen’s last, unfinished novel, nor did I watch the recent TV series. Set on the south coast in a fishing village that a local landowner has plans to transform into a rival for Brighton or Eastbourne, apparently Sanditon could be considered the first ‘seaside‘ novel – which shall remain my overall theme throughout this month. However, I shall be more specific in my links too. The cover I’ve chosen shows someone falling into the sea from a bathing machine (I think) and ‘dipping‘ is my first seaside link to:
The Madness by Alison Rattle
This novel is a story of doomed inter-class romance. Marnie, who has a withered leg but swims like a fish wants to become a ‘dipper’ assisting ladies to bathe. When the local nobility arrive for a stay, Marnie falls for the son, Noah – but it’s never going to work, she’s merely a diversion for the rich young man, who on his return from London brings his fiancee to see the opening of the new pier… This book echoes Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, and although written as YA was superb. My link shall be the pier which features so strongly in
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
A book I must re-read, Greene’s 1938 novel is of course set in Brighton with the amoral teenaged villain Pinkie at its heart. The title refers to the rock sold at seaside resorts – a metaphor for Pinkie, who like the rock, is the same all the way through – and not in a good way. Rock is my link to:
Babycham Night by Philip Norman
This is a wonderfully evocative memoir from the biographer of the Beatles about his childhood growing up on the Isle of Wight after WWII, where his parents ran the end of the pier entertainments on Ryde pier. Norman was rather neglected by his parents, and relied on his wonderful granny who ran the rock kiosk. My link this time is in seaside businesses which takes me to:
Oh, I Do Like To Be… by Marie Phillips
Phillip’s latest novel is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Set at the seaside and involving cloned twins, masses of mistaken identity slapstick – and an assortment of seaside businesses and their owners. It is fast-moving and very well done. Her seaside town is unshowy, a little run down, which reminded me of:
Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale
Gale’s coming of age story is set in a real unshowy seaside town – Weston-Super-Mare – and follows the story of Eustace, who struggles with being different there and longs to get away. Gale’s book captivated me, and the route Eustace takes, through his cello, was particularly brilliantly done. A wonderful story. It’s the getting away from the seaside insularity that makes my last link to:
Time to Win by Harry Brett
Getting away from seaside insularity is something I personally did! My first job after uni was in Great Yarmouth and I didn’t get on with that town. Henry Sutton (writing as Harry Brett) knows the area really well and chose to set his crime drama series there – so reading Time to Win was a real nostalgia trip for me as I could recognise streets and buildings that were there when I worked in the town and lived in Gorleston across the estuary! Time to Win is a great dose of Norfolk Noir, focusing on one family and their rivals in Great Yarmouth’s underworld.
So this month I’ve toured the seaside towns of southern England, moving all along the coastline from Somerset to East Anglia and points in between. Where will your six degrees take you this month?