Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.
Pride & Prejudice
I was desperate to find a non-Austen, non-Colin Firth link but struggled for a while until i came up with (what IMHO) is a cracker. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, which leads me to:
The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage
Strictly speaking, Savage is referring to the animal rather than sin in his title, but I’m running with it. This tale of a man in mid-life crisis, told through his writings and letters is funny but sad. Read my review here. Now I thought of two ways to go from here. Firstly, Savage’s first novel, Firmin, was about a mouse – which could have led to Flowers for Algernon, but instead I’ve decided to go with the fact that he was 67 when his first novel was published. Another author who was over 60 when their first novel was published was:
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The first of her novels was finally published in 1931, after a long career as a columnist and freelancer. She started writing in her mid-forties, but she was 64 when her first novel came out. I shall take Woods as my prompt to go to:
Into the Woods by Robert Williams
I reviewed this novel for the first issue of Shiny New Books (see here). This is a contemporary tale which has a scary opening, in which a family living in a house in the forest are broken into and faced with an armed gang. But the novel is not really a thriller, its more about the relationship we have with the woods – they can be a sanctuary too – as this family thought at first…
An underated author, I can’t recommend this one enough. This novel is set in the north-west of the UK, which is where I’ll stay for:
All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills
Mills is one of my favourite authors. I still think that his second novel (reviewed here) is my favourite. Featuring a camper who stayed on at the end of the tourist season, this novel is dead-pan and blackly funny. I adore this book.
I am going to take the obvious link in the title, but in an oblique way – rather than go to Agatha Christie, I’m taking the fact that the Orient Express is a train… so we shall go to France now for:
The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul DidierLaurent
Thiis charming French novel, translated by Ros Schwartz,,and reviewed here, features a chap called Guylain Vignolles who is a man of habit. He catches the 6.27 train in to work every day, he sits on the same hard orange seat, and once underway he takes a folder from his briefcase – and reads aloud to the carriage from a found page from a book – he works at a book recycling plant. He falls in love the the author of some diaries he finds – but I can’t tell you more! Some of the memorable scenes in this little novel are set in a retirement home, whose residents hire Guy to read to them. My final link, therefore, uses the retirement home to go to:
The Latecomer by Dmitri Verhulst
Verhulst is Belgian, writing in Dutch. This novel translated by David Colmer, is hilarious. It concerns Désiré Cordier, seventy four. A retired librarian, father of two and hen-pecked husband, he is now a resident at the Winterlight Home for the Elderly. More than anything else in retirement, Désiré has wanted to get away from his wife. His grown-up children no longer need him and he wants an easy life, so he comes up with a plan. He will fake dementia and force his family to put him in a home. As the novel progresses, he tells us how he did this, alongside details of his new life!
From Regency England to America and through the woods back to the north-east, but then off to France, finishing in a Belgian retirement home – that was my six degrees of separation this month. Where will yours take you?