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 start with the classic novella Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.
1. I never think of Edith Wharton without also thinking about her friend and correspondent Henry James. A prominent figure in Ethan Frome is a broken pickle dish that symbolizes the broken lives of the characters. Henry James also wrote a novel about another kind of dish that contains a flaw, The Golden Bowl, which, according to Goodreads, is “the most controversial, ambiguous, and sophisticated of James’s novels.”
2. The Golden Bowl easily suggests The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, the first book in the His Dark Material series. I read this book when it first came out, but I did not understand it at all.
3. From Philip Pullman’s novel we travel to the city of Pullman, Washington, USA. Buckle up, because this is a very convoluted journey. Pullman, WA, is the home of Washington State University. Just last week, on the day after Thanksgiving, the Washington State Cougars humiliated the University of Washington Huskies by the score of 40-13 in the annual intrastate rivalry football game known as the Apple Cup. Finally, we have arrived at the novel Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty.
4. The title of Moriarty’s novel is the first half of the common adage “apples never fall far from the tree.” My next book completes the adage: Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon.
5. Toby, the main character in Tana French’s novel The Witch Elm, hasn’t fallen far from the tree in the back yard of his ancestral home. When younger family members discover a skull in the tree’s trunk, Toby is forced to remember the past and reconsider who he has become.
6. A tree is also the focal point of the main character’s life story in the novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. One could even call this tree a symbol, which brings us back around to Wharton’s use of symbolism in Ethan Frome.
For the record, I would like to declare that I don’t believe that adage about apples not falling far from the (family) tree. However, the association between degrees 3 and 4 is just too good to pass up.
I hope you have enjoyed this literary journey that includes what is probably the biggest stretch of free association I’ve ever subjected my brain to. As always, I look forward to seeing where this exercise takes other readers.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown