Book covers: Wifedom by Anna Funder; The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Night Woman by Nancy Price; Crossfire by Dick Francis & Felix Francis; Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns; The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns; Being Dead by Jim Crace

6 Degrees: From Being a Wife to Being Dead

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 Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life by Anna Funder, which was published in July 2023. The book details the life of writer Eileen O’Shaughnessy, who married George Orwell in 1936. Anna Funder uses newly discovered letters between Eileen and her best friend to get to know Orwell’s wife, who has been expunged from the story of her famous husband’s life.

I wish I had had the time to read Wifedom before starting this exercise. 

first degree

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is a novel about Hadley Richardson, wife of writer Ernest Hemingway. Richardson was from St. Louis, and this book was a hit with my book club when we read it in 2011, back when I lived in St. Louis.

second degree

Another novel about a writer’s wife is Night Woman by Nancy Price. Randal Eliot is a famous author, surrounded by adulation and rumors of a Pulitzer Prize. What nobody knows is that his wife, Mary, really wrote all the novels that have brought him such fame.

third degree

Dick Francis, a former jockey turned mystery novelist, also had a wife named Mary. Francis always acknowledged that Mary was his writing partner in that she did most of the research for the books. There was frequent speculation that Mary may have also written the books, and after her death in 2000 some people in the publishing industry wondered if the world would ever see another Dick Francis novel. Dick Francis’s last novel was Crossfire, published in 2010, which he cowrote with his son Felix. Dick Francis died in 2010 at age 89.

fourth degree

The world of horse racing is also the subject matter of a series of books by poet and novelist Stephen Dobyns. The most recent of these books, which feature private detective Charlie Bradshaw, is Saratoga Payback (2017).

fifth degree

The Church of Dead Girls is a stand-alone novel by Stephen Dobyns. It chillingly portrays the paranoia and mob mentality that develop when three young girls are murdered in a small town.

sixth degree

Being Dead by Jim Crace describes the decomposition of the bodies of Joseph and Celice, a middle-aged couple murdered on the sand dunes of Baritone Bay. This narrative is nowhere near as bad as the title might suggest.

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

4 thoughts on “6 Degrees: From Being a Wife to Being Dead”

  1. Jim Crace is such an unusual writer, isn’t he? I haven’t read the book you mention, but I’m sure he’s made it far more interesting than it sounds at first. I was going to start with The Paris Wife as well, but then decided to change at the last minute.

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