Six Degrees of Separation: Rules of Civility

I’m back to doing the super monthly tag Six Degrees of Separation, which is hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is:

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (December 31st)

Towles first novel is one I would really love to re-read. Rules of Civility was published in 2011 when he was in his mid-forties. It was such a success he was able to retire from investment banking to write full time. Rules was a superb debut; set in late 1930s Manhattan, it follows a year in the life of a young secretary who by chance falls in with an upper-class New York set. It evoked the jazz age wonderfully and I adored it.

It begins on New Year’s Eve – and I’m going to use that as my thread, moving on to:

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton (February 14)

This is the extraordinary story of a failed relationship seen as an auction catalogue of their belongings taking place on St Valentine’s Day, 2009. The lots go from shoes to notes on the fridge (right). It’s a bizarre concept, yet strangely, it works – well, sort of. I was fascinated at the time but a little underwhelmed by the central romance. I wish I kept my copy though, it’s become rather collectable.

Saturday by Ian McEwan (February 15)

One of the few McEwan novels I haven’t read, Saturday takes place the day after Valentine’s Day, in 2003, a day of protest in London over the USA invasion of Iraq. It follows the day of a neurosurgeon Henry Perrone as he goes about his errands as he works towards a family dinner later, and thinks about the things, including the war and the protest, when his day is disrupted. This life in a day leads me, naturally, to:

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (a Wednesday in mid-June)

Woolf’s novel takes place on a single day, which scholars have worked out to be a Wednesday in mid-June. ‘Dalloway Day’ is now celebrated by The Royal Society of Literature and the British Library annually on the appropriate day, which was June 16th this year, with walks and activities. I wrote a piece for Shiny New Books this year as part of the celebrations – read my ‘Five Fascinating Facts about Mrs Dalloway’ here.

One Day by David Nicholls (July 15)

Nicholl’s huge bestseller’s USP is that each chapter takes place on just one day, the same one each year. When Em meets Dex, it is St. Swithun’s Day 1985, and we follow their relationship through these annual snapshots. A clever concept, well executed, that manages to be moving and fun – recommended for a light but thoroughly engaging read.  

The Ice Storm by Rick Moody (Nov 22)

Moody’s second novel, published in 1997, is set over the Thanksgiving weekend of 1973 during an ice storm. It follows the exploits of two neighbouring families in affluent Connecticut, the adults and teens, and is replete with sex, drugs, booze. My memories of reading it pre-blog are only of the wife-swapping scene which was prominent in the movie. It’s one I plan to re-read soon.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney (Dec 31)

My last choice which is a rather wonderful sounding book in my TBR piles takes us back to where we started. The titular heroine is a no-nonsense 84-year-old who goes for a long walk around New York City on New Year’s Eve. She looks back at her career in advertising and as a poet and how the city has changed over the decades – a love song to NYC. Can’t wait to read this novel.

So my six degrees have taken me around the year, three each in London and New York/New England – where will yours take you?

12 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Rules of Civility

  1. kimbofo says:

    Was Dalloway Day really on 16 June… that sounds like the organisers didn’t think it through properly because that is Bloom’s Day! Wonder if it was deliberate?

    Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a great novel ! She’s such a contrary grump but fun with it!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      They started Dalloway day the year before as the middle Wednesday in June – they just coincided this year.

  2. Diana @ Thoughts on Papyrus says:

    I love your literary chain. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk was on my TBR list but I removed it only recently. I think I am putting it back there again, because, if anything, I didn’t realise it concerned a 84-year old (or I forgot) – that will be more interesting that I initially thought!

  3. rosemarykaye says:

    I’ve always avoided that Ian McEwen book, it just sounds too depressing (though of course as I haven’t read it I may well be wrong). Lillian Boxfish, however, sounds right up my street and is being added to my wish list right now. I’d not heard of it before, so thank you for writing about it.

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