Six Degrees of Separation – from The Dry to The Hotel New Hampshire

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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We’re starting this month with Jane Harper’s The Dry which I haven’t read but I remember it popping up frequently in my Twitter feed when it was published. I do know that it’s a thriller set in small town Australia.

As is Lesley Glaister’s nail-biting As Far as You Can Go which sees a British couple running a remote Australian farm after answering an advertisement. I remember being gripped by this as their letters to the outside world go unanswered and the farm’s owners’ behaviour becomes increasingly odd.

Cassie and Graham are running away from problems in Glaister’s spooky thriller as is Dylan who is escaping the bailiffs in Jenni Fagan’s The Sunlight Pilgrims. The only place left to go is the caravan his mother left him in Scotland where the temperature is plummeting.

There’s a distinctly dystopian flavour to Fagan’s novel as there is to Megan’s Hunter’s strikingly poetic The End We Start From, the story of a London submerged by flood from which our unnamed narrator, her husband and her newborn son flee for their lives.

I’m using Hunter’s name to link with Carson McCuller’s classic The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which tells the story of a deaf-mute whose kindly nature draws in his fellow townspeople, many lonely and unhappy.

McCuller’s celebrated debut is set in small mill town in America, down on its uppers, as is Richard Russo’s Empire Falls which is set against the backdrop of the eponymous town in the state of Maine where the manager of the local diner has a lot on his plate.

Maine is right next door to New Hampshire which leads me to John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire and the Berrys, the family that runs it. I’ve gone off the boil somewhat with Irving’s recent novels but this is one of his best: a showcase for his consummate storytelling skills and entertaining characters.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from a drought-stricken small Australian town to a hotel on the US Eastern seaboard run by an eccentric family. 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.

26 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from The Dry to The Hotel New Hampshire

  1. Café Society

    I love Empire Falls, although I think The Bridge of Sighs is my favourite Russo. Having been brought up in a corner shop I could identify with so much in that.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thanks, Helen. It’s quite some time since I read the Glaister but it popped into my head almost immediately as a link which gives you an idea of the impression it made.

      Reply
  2. stargazer

    Ah yes, The New Hampshire Hotel, that is a great one. I haven’t read any of John Irving’s more recent novels, but judging from your comment, I am not really missing out.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Isnt’ it, just. I’d make an exception for Last Night at Twisted River but other than that it’s been a string of disappointments for me.

      Reply
  3. FictionFan

    I do recommend The Dry – her best book to date, in my opinion. The only other one I’ve read on your chain is Empire Falls, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I do have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter on my TBR, so I’ll get to it one of these days!

    Reply
  4. Kate W

    Well you win for finishing with one of my favourite authors 🙂

    Despite the fact that I’m a sucker for books about New England, I am yet to read Empire Falls – it’s a HUGE gap in my reading (as Rory at Fourth Street Review occasionally reminds me).

    Reply

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