Six Degrees of Separation – from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Seven White Gates

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 others to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the titles on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month we’re starting with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a book I’ve read many times as a child and as an adult.

Both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass are stuffed with riddles, puzzles, wordplay and a multitude of allusions which Martin Gardner helps elucidate in The Annotated Alice

I’m distinctly unkeen on annotations in novels but Jonathan Coe’s footnotes in The House of Sleep had me in hysterics.

Coe is best known for his state of the nation novels, a sub-genre I find hard to resist. A recent favourite was Amanda Craig’s The Lie of the Land which looks at the divisions between town and country through the story of Lottie, furious with the philandering Quentin but too broke to divorce him.

A particularly grisly murder brought Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm to mind for me while reading Craig’s novel. A couple of pages later she pleasingly tips her hat to Gibbons with a quote.

Gibbons’ comic novel is widely acknowledged as a parody of the floridly romantic historical style epitomised by Mary Webb’s Precious Bane, set in Shropshire during the Napoleonic Wars.

Shropshire is the location for one of my childhood favourites, Malcolm Saville’s Seven White Gates which has some wonderfully atmospheric scenes on the Long Mynd.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from Alice’s adventures down a rabbit hole to a childhood favourite set in Shropshire. 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.

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