6 Degrees of Separation: 1 Woman and 6 Others

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month we begin with a classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

1. Another book with the name Alice in the title is Lisa Genova’s first novel, Still Alice. Previous fiction about Alzheimer’s disease had explored the condition from the perspective of relatives and/or caregivers, but in this 2007 novel Genova portrays the condition from the point of view of the patient.

2. A woman’s name also appears in the title of Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace. This novel is based on an 1843 case in which Grace Marks was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper/mistress but had no memory of the event. The novel explores the experience of Doctor Simon Jordan, an emerging specialist in the growing field of mental illness, who tries to help Grace remember what happened.

3. Elizabeth Strout chose a woman’s name as the title of her novel Olive Kitteridge, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Through a collection of several vignettes the novel portrays Olive, a retired school teacher, as others in her small town in Maine see her. Strout returns to her titular character in Olive, Again, published on October 15, 2019.

4. Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey sports a woman’s name in the title. Like Still Alice, this novel, winner of the 2014 Costa Book Award for First Novel, portrays a character suffering from dementia. That character, Maud, may forget why she came into the room, but she’s certain that her friend Elizabeth is missing. Could her scattered memories hold the answer to a 70-year-old unsolved mystery?

5. Elizabeth Is Missing is from my shelf of books to-be-read that present fictional portrayals of older women. Another book on that shelf, and one that also contains a woman’s name in the title, is Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon. As 84-year-old Florence lies on the floor waiting to be rescued after a fall, she thinks about her past life with her long-time friend Elsie. The dust jacket copy promises a tale of love and friendship couched within a mystery.

6. This chain ends with another novel from that same TBR shelf, What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr. This novel apparently is an edgier thriller than the previous two. When Rose finds herself in an Alzheimer’s unit in a nursing home with no memory of how she got there, she executes a plan to find out who wants to put her away and why.

From a couple of Alices through Grace, Olive, Elizabeth, Elsie, and Rose, we’ve gone through a sequence of novels that all feature a woman’s name in the title. This was so much fun I hope I get to do it again some time.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

6 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: 1 Woman and 6 Others”

  1. Cool! Women’s names. I really enjoyed Alias Grace, and I have Olive on my shelf and really need to read it. I read two other of Strout’s books about Lucy Barton, so those too could have been on your chain.

    1. Hi, Shelleyrae. I saw that you had Still Alice on your chain as well. I had originally started out with a dementia chain, but it quickly became too depressing. The women’s names chain was much more fun.

  2. This is a good one! My book group keeps suggesting Still Alice and I have resisted because it sounds so depressing. Should I relent? I did like Elizabeth is Missing although also found it very sad. Not sure how I can handle crime novels so well and be so eager to avoid depressing topics in fiction and nonfiction, but there you are . . .

    1. Thanks for commenting, Constance. Still Alice would be a good book group suggestion. (I read it for a book group.) The topic is presented compassionately, and the ending is about as upbeat as the subject matter allows. We’ve heard a lot more about dementia since this book was published, but when it came out it was ground breaking in terms of fictional representations.

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