Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved

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. I’ve opted for a single link between all the books this month which should be obvious to you looking at the covers… Our starting book is:

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

Shamefully I’ve not read this. I only read my first Hustvedt, The Blindfold, last year. Being about art history, it really appeals, so I shall look to promote it up the TBR.

Black Roses by Jane Thynne

This is the first of Jane Thynne’s Clara Vine books, following the adventures of an Anglo-German actress recruited to be a British spy in Berlin in the years leading up to WWII while filming a picture at Leni Riefenstahl’s studio. She gets to move in high circles – meeting Magda Goebbels, and the other Third Reich wives. Thynne expertly blends fact with exciting fiction looking at women’s lives in Germany during this period in the series of novels. A wonderful series. You can also read a Q&A I did with Jane about Black Roses here.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I will have to re-read this novel at some point, having read it back in the 1990s. I know everyone raves about Atwood, but I’ve always remained slightly cool. I own half a shelf full though – so I should try again…

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon set the bar for all the great noir novels to follow, defining the main character types of the hard-boiled detective novel that will crop up again and again. Hammett’s style is more florid than Chandler’s, but between chiselled detective Sam Spade, the femme fatale Miss Wonderly and villains Joel Cairo and Mr Gutman, the scene is set for twisty noir.

Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

Ferrante’s debut novella tells the story of a woman who returns home when her mother dies to discover her secret life. It brought modern Naples to life, but there was a strange preoccupation with bodily functions of the young woman. Can’t say I warmed to it much!

The Madonna of the Almonds by Marina Fiorato

I don’t read much historical fiction, but I am a fan of Marina Fiorato’s novels which are mostly set in Italy. This is her second – and was inspired by the story behind the development of the original almond liqueur, Amaretto di Saronno, and the frescoes by Luini in Milan. This is a great read – ideal for summer.

Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier

I shall bring my covers tour of red outfits to a close with this most celebrated short story by Du Maurier. The other four in the collection are well worth reading too – I remember liking ‘The Breakthrough’ about a scientist aiming to collect souls at the moment of death – sounds grim, but it was years ago when I read this set of stories.


I have plenty of other books with figures wearing red outfits on my shelves, but decided to stick with those I have read – going through pre-war Berlin to the Americas, then through historic and modern Italy to end up in Venice and the ghostly vision of the girl in a red coat.

Where will your six degrees take you?

29 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved

  1. Calmgrove says:

    Clever twist on the theme — while I’ve not heard of let alone read most of these titles I do like to browse the connections you and other participants make and the reasoning you make behind them.

  2. Davida Chazan says:

    Great chain with the red dresses! By the way, can you see the face in the Handmaid’s Tale cover? See the white dot next to the wimple on her head? That’s the eye, and the nose is under her chin… very cool cover!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Aha! I’d not thought about the Atwood cover beyond the red dress. I was initially going to go down the art route with my links, but then the red dress set me off on my alternate route.

      • Davida Chazan says:

        The cover to Testaments also has two figures – the one in green, and then the black that shows she’s wearing a cloak has a woman with her arms raised up.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      The Clara Vine books are excellent (her husband was the late Philip Kerr of the Bernie Gunther Berlin spy books).

  3. Helen says:

    I love the red outfit theme! I’ve enjoyed some of Marina Fiorato’s books but haven’t read that one yet. It does sound interesting.

  4. Margaret says:

    Those red covers are so striking. I’ve read four of these books (five with What I Loved), and have Black Roses on my TBR shelves. I’d like to read The Maltese Falcon, but I’m not tempted by Troubling Love!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I had a couple I’ve used before, and a whole handful I haven’t read yet – I was amazed too to find that many (I scrolled through all my Librarything covers).

  5. Rebecca Foster says:

    And here I thought your first step would be to Paul Auster 😉 I like your sartorial link. I have a different Fiorato book, Crimson and Bone, that you kindly passed on to me — it’s got red in the title and on the cover, if not quite a whole dress! I promise to read it someday … I’m contemplating a colours theme for next summer’s 20 Books (yep, I’m thinking about it already), so maybe then.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I deliberately chose not to go via Auster – fooled you! I can’t believe you’re planning ahead to next year already.

  6. Marg says:

    After I finished my chain I looked at the cover and then thought, I should have done red dresses. Oh well!

    Enjoyed your chain!

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