Six Degrees of Separation – from Atonement to Oscar and Lucinda #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.

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This month we’re starting with Ian McEwan’s Atonement which is about thirteen-year-old Briony who misconstrues an event she witnesses one scorching summer day in 1935 leading her to make an accusation she will regret for the rest of her life.

Atonement reminded me very much of L P Hartley’s The Go-Between in which young boy becomes caught up in the relationship between a young man and woman and is irreparably damaged by it.

Julie Christie played a starring role in the film adaptation of The Go-Between just as she did in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd which I’m unable to watch without snivelling. Even the music starts me off.

There’s a scene in Hardy’s novel involving sheep which makes me cry all the harder unlike the one in Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir’s very funny Butterflies in November in which a dead sheep is wrestled into a car’s passenger seat.

Butterflies in November is set in Iceland where the novelist Sarah Moss spent a year as a visiting academic. She writes about what it’s like to be a foreigner in a country so small that everyone seems to know each other in her entertaining memoir, Names for the Sea.

Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea is set nowhere near Iceland and I can remember very little about it having read it a very long time ago but I do know that it won what was then called the Booker Prize.

As did Oscar and Lucinda which is my all-time favourite winner (so far). Gawky, misfit Oscar Hopkins meets fellow gambler Lucinda Leplastrier – equally the misfit and unexpectedly in possession of a large fortune – on board a ship sailing to Australia where both wager their futures on the construction of a fantastical glass church. Set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century colonialism it’s a wonderfully witty, vibrant pastiche of a Victorian novel.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from an English summer’s day in 1935 to nineteenth-century Australia. 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.

29 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from Atonement to Oscar and Lucinda #6Degrees

  1. BookerTalk

    The scene with the sheep in Madding Crowd gets me every time too. A great film except for the tedious scene where Terrance Dance shows off his swordsmanship. I haven’t even thought about my chain for this month…

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      It’s a beautiful film but best watched when feeling emotionally robust. I’m sure there was a disclaimer along the lines of ‘no sheep were hurt’ but it’s not a scene I like to think about!

      Reply
      1. Brona

        The book left me feeling rather meh in the end. Enjoyed the start, even the sheep, but I can imagine that seeing that scene in a movie would play out more emotionally than reading it with a hundred years in between.

        Have you seen the modern movie version?

        Reply
        1. Susan Osborne Post author

          It certainly does and the music is suitably tear-jerking from the first chord. I haven’t seen the new version, too much potential emotional investment required! Have you?

          Reply
  2. Annabel (AnnaBookBel)

    I love your links – and as always, you remind me of super books I have on the shelves which I should read (Moss and Ólafsdóttir) I haven’t done mine for this month yet – I forgot, but am on it!

    Reply
  3. whatcathyreadnext

    I love your links this month and you’re right that our different thought processes are so entertaining to observe. I too read The Sea, The Sea many years ago and can’t remember precisely what it was about either, lol.

    Reply
  4. Kay

    Again, another chain that I love and where I’ve read not a single book. My TBR always grows with these. Thanks for sharing them! By the way, your link on the mister linky thing goes to last month’s chain. Thought you might like to know. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thank you, Kay, and for telling me about the linky link. I’ll sort it out. I love the way we all veer off in different directions with these posts!

      Reply
        1. Susan Osborne Post author

          Thanks for that. Those elves were extraordinary, weren’t they. I was so amused at her colleagues’shiftiness when she taxed them about whether they believed in them or not.

          Reply
  5. Kate W

    A very neat chain! I’m enjoying all of the different first links – everyone seems to have found a different aspect of Atonement to focus on.

    I must get hold of Names for the Sea – although I haven’t been a huge fan of Moss’s stories, I think this memoir would be interesting (author Hannah Kent also lived in Iceland for a year, which was her inspiration for Burial Rites).

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks, Kate. I always enjoy the diverse routes we all take from the starting point. It would be great to see Kent and Moss in conversation about their time in Iceland. Both seem to have been there for about the same length of time, long enough to get involved with the community.

      Reply
  6. Liz

    Another super chain as usual. I adored the books and film version of The Go-Between and Far from the Madding Crowd (and oh! those poor sheep!), so thank you for the reminder of both. 🙂

    Reply

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