Six Degrees of Separation – Sorrow and Bliss to That They May Face the Rising Sun

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.

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This month we’re starting with Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlisted Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason which I have on order. It’s been much praised for it handling of mental health issues through the story of a middle-aged woman, apparently successful yet deeply troubled.

Which leads me to Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Starling Days, a compassionate, empathetic novel which explores the effects of mental illness from both sides of a relationship.

With birds on my brain, Robert Hellenga’s The Fall of a Sparrow sprang to mind. It sees a man decide to attend the trial of the terrorists who murdered his daughter.

Tayari Jones’ The Silver Sparrow follows two sisters, daughters of the same man by different women, only one of whom knows she’s the other’s sibling.

In Joan Silber’s Secrets of Happiness one set of siblings in a family, kept hidden by a happily married man, know all about his wife’s children while they know nothing of their half-brother and sister.

The narrator of Niall Williams’ This is Happiness looks back on a long life in which he believes he’s found the secret of happiness in a small Irish town where his grandparents lived.

Leading me to John McGahern’s That They May Face the Rising Sun in which happiness springs from love, fellowship and a quiet life in the Irish countryside.

This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a middle-aged woman hoping to recover her mental health to happiness found through a quiet, contented life. 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.

22 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – Sorrow and Bliss to That They May Face the Rising Sun”

  1. I read Tayari Jones’ first book, so am certainly up for The Silver Sparrow. And anything by John McGahern wins my vote, so I’l look out for this – thanks!

  2. Sorrow and Bliss is the July pick for my book club so I will definitely be reading it soon. This Is Happiness has been in my TBR pile since it was included in the longlist for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2020.

  3. All for finding the secret of happiness in middle age – count me in! I will read Sorrow and Bliss eventually, and I also like the sound of the McGahern book (a writer I have never heard of!).

    1. Definitely! McGahern is a superb writer but much of his fiction is unremittingly grim, reflecting his own life, which is what made That They May Face… such a joy for me.

  4. Love all the birdy links. I must add Starling Days to my wishlist. I have the Niall Williams on my shelves – I tried it but couldn’t get into it before, but kept it for the lovely hare on the cover! It will get another go eventually.

    1. I do like that hare! I’ve not had much success with Williams’ other books but This is Happiness hit the spot. I love Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s writing.

  5. Nice links, and always good to see John McGahern in there, one of my favourites. A quiet life in the Irish countryside sounds ok to me.

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