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 Sally Rooney’s Normal People which I read on holiday in Portugal last October. It’s about Marianne and Connell, both from very different backgrounds, whose on-again, off-again relationship begins in school. Despite their extraordinary connection, neither seems quite able to fully express their feelings for each other. I loved both the novel and the BBC’s recent adaptation.
Also largely set in Dublin, Belinda McKeon’s Tender is about Catherine and James who instantly click when James returns from Berlin to reclaim the room Catherine has been renting for her first year at Trinity. Everyone assumes they’re a couple but while Catherine is love with him, James is gay.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night popped into my mind after thinking about McKeon’s novel for obvious reasons although it continues the theme of strained relationships with Dick and Nicole Diver’s already delicate marriage stretched to breaking point.
Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop is entirely different. When Florence Green decides to open a bookshop on the Suffolk coast she has no idea of the seething mass of resentment and opposition she’s about to unleash.
Bookshops lead me to Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which playfully meshes the old reading world with new technology in a quirky edge-of-your-seat story of bookish folk. I loved this book and included it in my Five Comfort Reads post for those seeking escape from the pandemic gloom.
Another of my five comfort reads was Lissa Evans’ Old Baggage which tells the story of suffragette Mattie, once met never forgotten. Evans’ story romps along replete with period detail exploring themes of social justice with wit, humour and compassion. A nice reminder that things do get better.
I very nearly didn’t read read Old Baggage, a bit put off by the blurb which was also the case with of Anne Youngson’s lovely Meet Me at the Museum. It’s made up of letters between Tina and Anders. Each is enduring a quiet loneliness, each is dealing with grief yet there are unexpected joys to share. So, I’m back where I started on the subject of love.
This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from a heart-wrenching love story set in Ireland to an epistolary one which might eventually end happily. 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.