Six Degrees of Separation – from The French Lieutenant’s Woman to The Tax Inspector #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 John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I’m sorry to say that I remember the film, starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, rather than the book which is set in Lyme Regis, one of my favourite seaside towns, and explores the position of women in nineteenth century society.

Taking my lead from Fowles’ title, Patrick deWitt’s French Exit is a caustic caricature of the wealthy upper classes, which takes its readers from New York City to Paris in the company of Frances Price, her son Malcolm and Small Frank, their ancient cat

Small Frank is one of the most memorable literary cats I’ve come across, only rivalled by the hairless therapy cat all done up in its ‘festive jumper’ in Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Harmless Like You in which a mother leaves her family when he’s a little boy.

Another son wrestles with his resentment at the mother who he believes deserted him when he was a child in Nathan Hill’s The Nix, a panoramic view of American politics from the ‘60s onwards, in which Samuel is forced to come to Faye’s aid when she is accused of being a terrorist.

Russell Banks’ The Darling also explores the fallout from the radical politics of the ’60s and ‘70s together with the machinations of American foreign policy through Hannah Musgrave who has been in hiding after taking part in acts of terror many years ago.

The Larkins in H. E. Bates’ The Darling Buds of May couldn’t be further from such goings on although they do manage to seduce a tax inspector away from his official duties with the joys of rustic life.

Which brings me neatly to Peter Carey’s The Tax Inspector which I have to confess I haven’t read but I gather it’s about a dodgy family business facing an audit.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from an early postmodern novel set in Dorset to a second-hand car dealers’ just outside Sydney. 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.

23 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from The French Lieutenant’s Woman to The Tax Inspector #6Degrees”

  1. Great chain…liked the ancient cat link! I can’t say next month’s starting book – Fight Club – is filling me with much enthusiasm at the moment (although I confess I haven’t read it). Having said that, perhaps I’ll go down a pacifist route to counteract the aggression…

  2. I’ve never read The Darling Buds, but who can forget the BBC series starring the very young Catherine Zeta Jones?
    Love that you finished with an Aussie book 🙂

    1. That’s the fun of it, isn’#t it! The Nix is one to get stuck into, a doorstopper but well worth the effort. Very pleased to see The Bean Trees in your links. It’s one of my favourite Kingsolvers but not much mentioned since The Poisonwood Bible became a bestseller.

  3. French Exit keeps crossing my radar – I think I’d enjoy it. I still have The Nix in my TBR stack – I usually tackle a chunky book over summer when I have lots of focused reading time but I’ve been travelling for five weeks, so my focused reading time might not happen this year.

    Love Darling Buds (and especially the tv series).

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