Six Degrees of Separation – from Vanity Fair to The Mountain Can Wait #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 William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair which tells the salutary story of Becky Sharp, the opportunistic social climber who comes to a sticky end, so memorably portrayed by Natasha Little in Andrew Davies’ 1998 adaptation.

Andrew Davies also adapted Alan Hollinghurst’s portrayal of ‘80s excess and politics, The Line of Beauty, which left me cold, and Karen at Bookertalk agrees with me.

Quite the opposite feeling to my childhood love of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, which led me to beg my parents to take me to Doone Valley every time we were anywhere near Exmoor.

Daphne du Maurier’s celebrated Rebecca is set in Cornwall, which is generally where we were off to as I watched the signs to Doone Valley flash past. At least two authors – Susan Hill and Sally Beauman – were confident enough to pen ‘sequels’ to Rebecca.

Leading me to Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley’s follow-up to Gone with the Wind which picks up our heroine’s story after the funeral of Melanie Wilkes, her old flame Ashley’s wife.

Based on his family history, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain shares the American Civil War backdrop, following a Confederate soldier home to the wife he married just before he enlisted four years before. Inman travels through a country as changed as he is – farms in ruins, terrible poverty, lawlessness and degradation.

With its striking sense of place and gorgeous prose, Sarah Leipciger’s The Mountain Can Wait was one of my favourite novels of 2015. It’s about a father whose need to protect the son who’s run away from a crime clashes with his own morality which, in a way, takes me back to the beginning of this post.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from a nineteenth-century morality tale to a twenty-first century version. 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.

35 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from Vanity Fair to The Mountain Can Wait #6Degrees”

  1. I love this chain! Thanks for the reminder of Cold Mountain, which I really enjoyed. I read Gone with the Wind last year and had not picked up that a ‘sequel’ had been published – would you recommend it? And finally, I really must get around to reading Rebecca sometime….! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Liz. I have to confess I haven’t read Scarlett. I’ve alwys thought those ‘sequels’ were a little cheeky! I loved Cold Mountain, particularly the way that Ada came into herself.

  2. I read Black Beauty several times as a child but I didn’t realise it was set in Doone Valley, though I do also have a literary and holiday-related association with the place, through Blackmore’s Lorna Doone. Your description of Cold Mountain has got me interested in the book, thanks.

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it. And I’ve realised that you’re absolutely right – I’ve misremembered Black Beauty for Lorna Doone. Oh dear… Looks like I’ve broken my own chain!

  3. I’ve actually read a couple of the books you used in your chain, Susan. Rebecca (a big favorite) and Scarlett (not so much of a favorite). Have you heard about the new book, The Winters, that’s based on Rebecca. I’m always a little on the fence about updates to older books or movies even. 🙂

    1. No, I haven’t come across The Winters, Kay, but I share your feelings about updates. They always seem a little presumptuous, particularly with classics like Rebecca or Gone With the Wind.

  4. I enjoyed reading through your chain! I hadn’t heard of Daphne du Maurier until I began blogging, which seems like a crime given how admired her work is–and how several of her books are considered classics. I still haven’t read anything she’s written, although I have a couple of her books on my TBR pile. I don’t think I’ve read Black Beauty–only seen the movie–but it’s been so long, so who knows. I hope you have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you. I have to confess to not having read Rebecca either. I do remember being struck her short story the film Don’t Look Now was adapted from. Have a good weekend yourself!

  5. I had completely forgotten about Scarlett! I was absolutely mad about Gone With the Wind when I was in my teens – it has all the drama that appeals to impressionable youngish readers! I know I read Scarlett but have no memory of what happened next!

    1. As you may have gathered, I’m not a fan of the tribute novel. It seems paricularly cheeky when offerng a sequel to a classic like rebecca or Gone With the Wind but I know some people love them.

  6. I never properly read Black Beauty. I never made it past the part where she was mistreated! (So often the way with me and animal stories, which I’m slowly trying to read through now, as an adult, though just as soft-hearted, even, perhaps, more so.) What a surprise to see it in one of these threads. There is another GWTW related story which I read a couple of years ago and found just fascinating (especially as my feelings about the book changed a great deal upon rereading 7 or 8 years ago), called The Wind Done Gone. Not a book for everyone, but quite provocative.

    1. I have to say I hate it when dogs, in particular, appear in novels. They rarely come out of it well! Is The Wind Done Gone written from the black perspective? If so, I can see that would make things much more interesting.

      1. I laughed when I saw the tagline for Lauren Davis’ recent novel (I don’t think it’s actually on the book, I think she has adapted it herself in promotional work): “the dog doesn’t die”!
        The Wind Done Gone is by Alice Randall and is an unauthorized parody which caused a stir on publication (all of which I missed at the time) and is told from the perspective of an enslaved woman named for the poem which also names Mitchell’s novel – and, yes, very interesting!

  7. Interesting chain! A friend recently recommended Hollinghurst to me, but his description of his work left me unimpressed. His prose sounds well wrought, but his books seem dull. I’ll know to avoid at least The Line of Beauty going forward.

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