Six Degrees of Separation – from The Poisonwood Bible to The Eyre Affair #6Degrees

Six Degrees of Separation is a meme hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best. It works like this: 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 others on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month we’re starting with Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. Drawing on her own childhood experiences with her missionary family in Africa, it’s the book that made her name but I much prefer her earlier novels.

Another Barbara whose novels I’ve enjoyed is Barbara Trapido whose Noah’s Ark is about a scatty single mother who falls for Noah, her polar opposite, but a decade later finds herself drawn back into her complicated past. I’m not entirely sure it would stand up to a second reading.

Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark became Schindler’s List for Stephen Spielberg’s blockbusting adaptation. I was told by the publisher’s rep that Americans did not know what an ark was hence the renaming which sounds a wee bit far-fetched not to mention insulting to me.

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron takes a somewhat starker view of the Holocaust with the story of a Polish concentration camp survivor married to a Jewish intellectual in Brooklyn and haunted by a dreadful secret.

The eponymous fourteen-year-old in Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World is led through a history of Western philosophy by a mysterious mentor and a multitude of postcards posing riddles in this international bestseller which was one of the first crossovers between young adult and adult book buyers that I remember from my bookselling days.

A description that could also be applied to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time about fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone who has Asperger’s syndrome and whose world is thrown into chaos by the discovery of his neighbour’s murdered dog.

The Boone family live in Swindon as does Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next, detective extraordinaire, who first made her appearance in The Eyre Affair which sees Thursday determined to get a whole series of literary characters back on their rightful pages. One of those books that has you constantly sniggering, annoying everyone within earshot.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from missionary work in Belgian Congo to fantastical literary conundrums in Swindon. Part of the fun of this meme is comparing the very different routes other bloggers take from each month’s starting point. If you’re interested, you can follow it on Twitter with the hashtag #6Degrees, check out the links over at Kate’s blog or perhaps even join in.

30 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from The Poisonwood Bible to The Eyre Affair #6Degrees”

  1. From the Belgian Congo to Swindon – that’s quite a journey! I enjoyed The Eyre Affair but I’ve not read any of the other Thursday Next novels, I should give them a try. Sophie’s Choice has been on the TBR forever, I’ll get to it eventually….

    1. I was quite pleased with that one although surprised that my final destination was two stops down the line from my home town after starting out in Africa!

  2. Confession: I haven’t read Schindler’s Ark or seen Schindler’s List… I was overseas when the movie came out and somehow it passed me by. Must remedy that.

  3. I loved The Curious Incident, and The Eyre Affair sounds fun. I haven’t read Schindler’s Ark, although I did see the movie. I recently heard Thomas Keneally interviewed on The Garrett Podcast, and I loved listening to him talk about writing, including about Schindler’s Ark.

  4. The title of Keneally’s book was a big issue at the time – he didn’t agree with the decision by the American publishers but couldn’t do anything to stop them

  5. oops, pressed enter by mistake before I had finished typing….. I was going to go on to say that you make this linkage look effortless but I know its not because I’ve stalled twice now trying to do mine.

    1. Ha! I think once I start on these the old bookseller in me wakes up and takes over although I think she’s going to be challenged my next month’s The Tipping Point!

      1. I was fascinated by The Tipping Point partly because I was working in a marketing related role so it gave me insights. But the next one he wrote wasn’t anywhere near as readable. Even so, not sure how to make a chain from this starter

    1. Thank you. I read that on holiday, annoying my partner with my sniggering – then he read it and I got his point. It’s so clever, isn’t it, yet so silly too.

      1. It is a sniggering sort of book. I had a first edition and lent it to someone who never returned it. I emailed Jasper Fforde and he said he would send a signed one for a donation to charity. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse 🙂

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