Six Degrees of Separation – From Wintering to Winter

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 Katherine May’s Wintering which I haven’t read but it sounds like one I should have waiting on the shelves to help get me through my least favourite season given the blurb’s description: ‘a comforting meditation on the fallow periods of life, times when we must retreat to care for and repair ourselves’.

It may be winter in Australia where Kate lives but in my home country it’s the opposite season so I’m linking to Ali Smith’s Summer which brought her quartet begun in 2016 to a close in pandemic-hit 2020

The first in Smith’s cycle, Autumn, was frequently described as a Brexit novel which leads me to Amanda Craig’s The Lie of the Land which follows a family downsizing to Cornwall from London, the best Brexit novel I’ve read.

There’s a passage in The Lie of the Land that felt straight out of Stella Gibbons’ parody Cold Comfort Farm, hat-tipped by Craig a few pages further into in her novel.

Cold Comfort Farm was apparently partly inspired by Mary Webb’s romance writing. I struggled to get through Webb’s Gone to Earth whose purple prose is prime parody material.

Webb’s novels were largely set in Shropshire, as were several of my childhood favourite Malcolm Saville’s whose Jane’s Country Year has recently been reissued by Handheld Press.

Jane’s Country Year is notable for its descriptions of the countryside, a talent at which Melissa Harrison excels which brings me to Winter, part of a quartet of seasonal anthologies edited by Harrison. Phew – a rare circular chain for me!

This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a book emphasising the qualities of quiet contemplation in winter to an anthology of nature writing on the season. 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.

26 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From Wintering to Winter”

  1. I’ve read 4 of your picks, for a change. It must have been a hoot to read what Gibbons was parodying! I think it’s the Winter and Spring volumes my husband has pieces in — have a look for “Chris Foster” in the table of contents if you wish 🙂

  2. Lots to savour here: the only ones I haven’t read from your chain are the Mary Webb (don’t think I’ll bother) and the Malcolm Saville – an author that this bookish child didn’t, for some reason enjoy. I enjoyed this chain a lot.

  3. Great chain. I was curious about Mary Webb after reading Cold Comfort Farm a few years ago, but never got round to trying any of her books. I don’t think I’m in any hurry!

  4. Loved your chain, and your alliteration! I have Mary Webb waiting somewhere but my enthusiasm (if I had any) went down further 🙂
    I’ve read and loved Jane’s Country Year, and did enjoy Cold Comfort Farm though some of her other titles which I’ve noticed recently seem more my kind, The Woods in Winter among them!
    Must explore the Winter anthology. It looks really good.

    1. Thank you and happy to have pushed Ms Webb further down your tbr! I’ve spotted several reviews of Gibbons’ other titles recently which look well worth investigating.

  5. I read Mary Webb’s ‘Precious Bane’ when I was a teenager (so that’s many, many years ago!). It was the first and only book I have read where the female protagonist had a cleft lip and palate (as I do). I wasn’t even aware of the quality of the prose at the time. I’ve read ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ and loved it and “something nasty in the woodshed” has become one of our household sayings.

  6. Nice work on the circular chain! Strangely enough my 6 degrees for April featured Cold Comfort followed by Gone to Earth – great minds 🙂

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