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 Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road which I’ve not yet read but I do know it’s about a middle-aged man whose life is thrown off kilter first by the eviction of his girlfriend, then by the arrival of a young man claiming to be his son.
For some unaccountable reason, the red-haired Audrey Niffenegger popped into my head, author of Her Fearful Symmetry, a nice slice of gothic about twins living in a flat overlooking Highgate cemetery.
Twins leads me to Angela Carter’s Wise Children, a tale of unacknowledged paternity, mistaken identities, twins at every turn, Shakespeare, Hollywood, music hall, discarded wives, glorious love and rollicking good times.
I loved Emma Rice’s adaptation of Carter’s novel which I saw at Bristol’s Old Vic where some years before I’d seen another excellent production based on a book, Susan Hill’s atmospheric ghost story The Woman in Black, which scared the living daylights out of me.
As did the film version of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, renamed The Innocents for the big screen, in which Deborah Kerr starred as the governess charged with teaching a brother and sister, both apparently possessed. Apologies for using this link a second time in six months: it’s a film that made quite an impression on me.
I’m linking to probably the best known literary governess, Jane Eyre, the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brontë’s gothic novel with its famous line ‘Reader, I married him’.
Taking me to The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys’ imagining of the backstory of Bertha, Mr Rochester’s first wife, through a beautiful young Creole woman in 1930s Jamaica who marries an impressionable young Englishman.
This month’s Six Degrees has taken a gothic turn from the upset routines of an American middle-aged man to the backstory of literature’s ‘madwoman in the attic’. 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.