Six Degrees of Separation: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Hosted by Kate at BooksaremyfavouriteandbestSix Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Our starting book this month is …

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles

I read this many years ago – yes, after the 1981 film with Meryl came out, so early 1980s – I have a copy of the film tie-in edition somewhere. It’s a novel I’ve long wanted to re-read, I’m going to avoid the obvious link via the book’s location of Lyme Regis to go with something quirky – the sort of thing that would be on Only Connect…  Fowles has a hidden bird in it – owl (two even, if you include Fowl). So I’m linking to a book by another novelist with a hidden bird, namely:

Electricity by Ray Robinson

I’ve used this book before, but I love plugging it. This is another novel I read pre-blog, but mentioned in my review of Robinson’s second novel The Man Without.  Electricity has a superb heroine in Lily – a severe epileptic who was abused and in care as a child. The novel follows her quest to find her lost brother Mikey. The text buzzes and hums around her as we find out what it’s like to suffer a fit and how the condition rules her life. The language is direct and doesn’t pull any punches, but we’re with Lily all the way on her as she searches for the family she’s never had. An astounding debut.   Another book which chronicles the effect of electricity on the brain is:

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Her diaries of the time when she regularly had ECT – electro convulsive therapy for her bipolar disorder (reviewed here).  This second volume of memoir is as wise-cracking as you’d expect from Carrie, but more thoughtful in tone as it is tempered by the loss of her father, Eddie.   My link this time, is similar to my first – via an animal in the author’s name – which leads me to:

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

It’s a brave author that takes a revered true-life text and then tells the same story from a different character’s point of view.  Sharon Dogar has done so with her third teen novel telling the familiar story of Anne Frank through Peter van Pels’ eyes (reviewed here).  Peter was the teenaged son of the other family that hid in that Amsterdam annex with the Franks and their daughters Anne and Margot. There is much to like in this ambitious novel, and the writing is good, but I felt it was too much in thrall to its primary source. Viewed as a coming of age story as much as a holocaust one however, teenagers may get a lot from it.  My link is through a famous story told through another PoV, which leads to:

Grendel by John Gardner

This novella tells the story of Beowulf via Grendel’s eyes. Poor Grendel, although we never find out exactly how he was created, he does realise that he has a bit of man in him somewhere, and he agonises over this as he lurks around watching men and occasionally getting the urge to kill one – always to eat at this stage. It is his encounter with the arrogant Unferth, that starts to really turn him and this is sped on by the dragon’s wisdom until he becomes the killing machine we know from the original text.The very dense and literary style with much philosophising will not suit all, but it has great insight and goes very well with Beowulf indeed. A difficult but rewarding read.  I’m alternating serious and silly links this month, and my silly link this time is via another author whose name ends in ‘ner’!

Up Till Now: The Autobiography by William Shatner with David Fisher

Up Till Now, written with David Fisher (and reviewed here), is a memoir that’s refreshingly honest and up front about nearly everything. It’s also very funny, but has plenty of touching moments too. William Shatner is a man of grand passions and big emotions. A really fun memoir – and to finish, another really fun memoir:

That Close by Suggs

Madness are one of the ultimate goodtime bands, who, since they reformed after an eight year break in 1992, continue to delight on the festival circuit. Their charismatic front man Suggs tells his story – “of how Graham McPherson became Suggs,” in this cheeky memoir (reviewed here). In the intro, he tells us about having been approached by a ghost-writer and turning them down to eventually do it himself, having always enjoyed writing, including songs. This memoir is fun from page one. He does repeat himself slightly on occasions, but otherwise it is completely ‘nutty’. I loved it

A rather mixed bag this month for me with three memoirs and all those silly links.

Where will your six degrees take you?

16 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

  1. Liz says:

    A brilliant chain – plenty for my TBR list here! I particularly like the idea of books from a difference point of view – Grendel sounds like genius! 🙂

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks Liz, Grendel was very intense, but very good. There’s a recent new Beowulf novel, but a modern retelling rather than different PoV – The Mere Wife which I have on my shelf too.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I. Just. Loved. That. Book. 😀 He acknowledges all his faults and is so hilarious. A silly link, but allowed me to have fun too!

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