Six Degrees of Separation – From The Bass Rock to The Reader on the 6.27

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.

Cover images

This month we’re starting with the winner of the 2021 Stella Prize, Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock which I’ve yet to read but I know it follows three women through different timelines whose lives are connected both to each other and to the eponymous rock off the Scottish coast.

I’m linking to the British equivalent of the Stella prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, for which Claire Fuller’s exploration of the darker side of rural life, Unsettled Ground, is shortlisted this year.

The Unsettled Ground cover with its withered flowers reminds me of Alix Nathan’s The Warlow Experiment. If you look carefully, you’ll see those lush fruit and flowers are about to be consumed by an insect hinting at something dark.

The Warlow Experiment is about a man who spends seven years underground, lured by the promise of financial security by an ambitious amateur scientist calling to mind Mick Jackson’s The Underground Man about an eccentric English aristocrat who builds a network of tunnels under his estate.

Which leads me to Tobias Hill’s Underground, a gripping thriller about murder on London’s Underground system. I earned my first writing fee for a review of this one and so have fond memories of it.

Geoff Ryman’s 253 devotes one page to each of the passengers plus the driver of a Tube train. I loved this but it’s not one for readers who hate fragmented narratives.

Jean-Paul Didierlaurent’s The Reader on the 6.27 is also about a train passenger. This one reads aloud from books he’s saved from pulping at the factory where he works

I’ve spent a lot of time in the dark for this month’s Six Degrees which has taken me from a Women’s Prize shortlisted novel about the dark side of rural life to a commuter, passionate about saving books from oblivion. 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.

43 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From The Bass Rock to The Reader on the 6.27”

  1. Unsettled Ground is going down well with quite a few of us, isn’t it? I like the direction of your chain. The Underground Man and Underground both appeal.

        1. She’s been in touch with me a few times about reviewing and I’ve been struck by what a thoroughly nice person she is. I first came across her writing on her flash fiction site. She posted weekly but is now much too busy, presumably. I miss it!

  2. I still have to read Unsettled Ground, looking forward to it. I remember reading about The Warlow Experiment, although I can’t remember if I’ve read the book or not.

  3. Excellent links! Fuller & Nathan are both on my list.
    Cheers from (soon to be) sweltering Toronto

  4. I can’t believe it – I’ve read 5 of your choices, only the Warlow Expt (which I have) to read – plus The Bass Rock itself. I’d like to re-read the Hill, Jackson and Ryman – the latter being so cleverly done.

  5. You got buried in the darkness for a while in the middle there, so I’m glad you found your way back to the surface by the end! The Warlow Experiment sounds intriguing…

  6. Great links. I’ve had a copy of The Underground Man on my shelf for years and had forgotten all about it until seeing it in your chain!

    1. I hadn’t noticed that, Kim. Oh dear! Perhaps the pandemic is making me parochial. I think you’d like Fuller’s writing. I’ve enjoyed all her novels.

  7. Lots of lovely twists and turns here, Susan, great chain! Tobias Hill’s The Love of Stones is one of my most favourite ever books so perhaps oddly I have never thought of reading any of his other books, until now….! I am also looking forward to getting round to the Fuller some time soon.

  8. The only one I’ve read is the first and I enjoyed it quite a bit (for atmosphere and thematic echoes throughout) but I’ve picked up your last a few times, on library browses.

    1. The Bass Rock seems to provoke a very mixed response but I’ll probably get around to it eventually. I think the last one is for an idle few hours but not worth going out of your way for.

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