6 Degrees of Separation – connecting books
Inspired by Davida Chazan’s post, I decided to give this a try. See her chain here The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog —
Davida writes, “This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.” See the graphic below.
FIRST DEGREE — I start my chain with a favorite, Mixed Marriage by Elizabeth Cadell (1963), a book I’ve read many times for the sheer pleasure of laughing out loud.
Written in diary format, sometimes with incomplete sentences (befitting a diary, of course), Cadell expertly profiles a young English bride-to-be and her family along with her Portuguese groom-to-be and his family. As the young couple grapple with wedding plans, we witness the ups and downs of dealing with family, in-laws, and cultural differences. The writing is wonderful, the depictions often hilarious, but most importantly, timeless.
SECOND DEGREE — The theme of mixed marriage takes me to Domingo’s Angel by Jenny Twist. A tall, thin, pale English girl wanders into a remote Spanish mountain village, meets a young villager and stays. This is not just their love story. It is the story of the personalities and dynamics of a small community and of the worsening conditions under Franco’s rule. It is the villagers’ resilience as they struggle to survive that touches your heart.
THIRD DEGREE — Village life takes me to Louis de Bernieres’ Birds Without Wings. Here again, we find a happy little village of Greeks and Turks, living and loving, arguing and laughing; many of them hedging their bets by offering both Christian and Muslim prayers. Outside influences disrupt their tranquil life as the ravages of war invade their village and young men sign up to fight in the trenches. We witness and share the agony of the battles those men fight and flare with anger at the injustice of it all. All the politicians and soldiers can just damn well go away and leave these people in peace. But, as always the power brokers impose their greed and warmongering and people do what they must to survive, grasping at whatever straws there may be.
FOURTH DEGREE — Doing what one must to survive brings me to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. This may not sound like a hardship and in many ways it isn’t as the Count is rich and adapts quite well to the rich lifestyle of the hotel. But, later when his money won’t fix all his problems he proves to be resilient and resourceful, as he watches the drama of upheaval in his beloved homeland, events he would have been participating in directly if not for his house arrest.
FIFTH DEGREE — Ah, how the circumstances we are born into affect our lives. At least, that is the case for Kingsley as it is for the count, in the novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. Kingsley, the well-educated eldest son, bears the responsibility of training his younger siblings and providing financial support for his parents in their retirement. Unable to find a job and in desperate need of money; he can’t marry his dear Ola without a bride price. With his diplomas little more than decorations on the walls of his parents humble home, Kingsley’s desire to protect his family draws him down a path he never could have anticipated.
SIXTH DEGREE — In the first five books I’ve chosen, the power of love is the driving force–young love in happy circumstances, young love in tragic circumstances, love of neighbors and friends and the sacrifices they make for each other, love of country, love for family and the fierce desire to protect–but what about the love of a stranger? The answer is found in News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I loved this book so much that I finished it, turned back to page one and read it again. An elderly widower, Captain Kidd enjoys his solitary wanderings roaming from town to town reading the news as a means to support himself. Then he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young recently-rescued captive of the Kiowa to her aunt and uncle. Surviving a 400 mile journey, the two arrive only to find that her aunt and uncle don’t want her. Will the Captain abandon her or…?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I’d love to see any #6 Degrees lists you might have.