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6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: Ghosts!

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 Turn of the Screw by Henry James, an appropriate choice for the Halloween season because it features ghosts.

Or does it? 

The most salient feature of James’s novella is its ambiguity. Are the ghosts the governess sees real, or are they the product of some psychological projection such as fear, prurience, desire, or repressed sexuality? About 10 years after the book’s publication James wrote that he purposely made the story so ambiguous because a shadowy picture of evil allows readers to fill in the picture with the details that frighten them the most.

Because the ghost story is pregnant with possibilities, it has a long literary history.

The American literary ghosts I love most aren’t psychological shadows—they are solid enough to slam doors. But they’re not horror movie monsters either. They’re conflicted beings with messages more complicated than the expected “avenge me” spiel; they want us to think about what it means to be a human in the world.

Amy Shearn

Here are six ghost stories that illustrate the variety of ways authors have chosen to present their ghosts. The final one is English rather than American, but it’s such a giant of the ghost-story canon that I couldn’t leave it out.

1. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James clearly follows the ghost story’s gothic origins in its use of a building where ghosts prowl. When Carly Kirk sets out to explore the disappearance of her aunt while working at the Sun Down Motel 35 years earlier, she comes up against a classic struggle of good vs. evil when two ghosts face off in a confrontation of apocalyptic proportions.

2. Sometimes a ghost gets to narrate its own story, as does Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. After being murdered at age 14, she watches from her own personal version of heaven as the police investigate the crime and as her family and friends adjust to life without her. (This book is nowhere near as ghastly as the short description might make it sound. It’s done with great sensitivity and insight.) 

3. A ghost as narrator also appears, although only sporadically, in Laura Lippman’s Lady in the Lake. Based on the unsolved murder of a Black woman in the 1960s in Baltimore, Lippman creates a picture of the seething social and racial tensions in the city at that time. The murdered woman is not the central figure in the story, but her ghost appears periodically to help explain the zeitgeist of the era.

4. A ghostly narrator introduces The Better Liar by Tanen Jones with this dramatic statement: “Like most of the dead, I want to be remembered.” Leslie hasn’t seen her younger sister, Robin, since Robin ran away from home 10 years earlier, at age 16. But the women’s father has stipulated in his will that the two women must appear together, in person, at his attorney’s office to receive their inheritance. Leslie, who really needs the money, sets out in search of Robin, whom she finds in a rooming house, dead from a drug overdose. But Leslie really needs that inheritance money . . .

5. C.J. Tudor uses three types of ghosts in The Other People. Driving home through rush-hour traffic one night, Gabe sees his daughter, Izzy, looking out the back window of the car in front of him. She mouths the word “Daddy,” but Gabe loses the car in the traffic. He never sees Izzy again. Gabe quits his job, buys a camper, and spends the next three years driving up and down the same stretch of highway where he last saw his daughter. Haunted by the vision of his missing daughter, Gabe himself haunts the highway and the rest areas along his route. Meanwhile, Fran and her young daughter are on the run along the same highway. Fran’s daughter, Alice, periodically falls into sessions of deep sleep during which she sees a vision of a young girl in a while dress. This is one truly haunted novel, perfect for Halloween season.

6. Sometimes what haunts a story is not some other-worldly presence, but a palpable absence. Such is the case in Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, in which a second wife feels compelled to live up to the reputation of her predecessor. 

After many different types of ghosts, we’re back again to a novel chillingly haunted by the ghost of possibility. Perhaps that’s why The Turn of the Screw and Rebecca are two of the best known ghost stories in Western literature.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

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6 Degrees of Separation Fiction

6 Degrees of Separation: Women’s Voices

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 Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel, Rodham, published May 19, 2000. According to Goodreads, Sittenfeld’s novel examines this question: “What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?”

I have not read this book and am not likely to, because Hillary Rodham Clinton is still alive and well, and more than capable of examining and explicating her own life choices. Whether she does so publicly or privately should be her own choice. I find the whole premise of Rodham presumptuous, distasteful, even offensive. 

However, I appreciate fiction that sets out to give voice to unheard women whose lives have been largely overlooked by the writers of history (most of whom have always been men). Here are six novels that do just that.

1. The first novel I remember reading consciously as the effort to give voice to historically suppressed women is The Red Tent (1997) by Anita Diamant. The novel tells the story of Dinah, a daughter of Jacob, who is mentioned only tangentially in the narration about the famous patriarch and his many sons in the Book of Genesis. In telling of Dinah’s interactions with Jacob’s four wives, Diamant imagines what the life of women’s society inside the red tent might have been like during biblical times.

2. Greek and Roman mythology feature many stories of women, both divine and mortal, at the mercy of men. In Circe (2018) Madeline Miller tells the story of one such woman, the daughter of mighty sun god Helios. When Circe turns to the mortal world for companionship, she discovers and perfects her powers of witchcraft while interacting with several mythological mortals, including Homer’s Odysseus. Chosen by Book of the Month subscribers as Book of the Year for 2018 and nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019), the novel is “a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world” (from the dust jacket).

3. In The Silence of the Girls (2018) Pat Barker gives voice to Briseis as a representative of the thousands of women behind the scenes of the ancient war between the Greeks and the Trojans. First taken as a spoil of war by Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, Briseis soon becomes a pawn in the power struggle between Achilles and Agamemnon, the Greek leader. Barker “brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations” (Goodreads).

4. In Galileo’s Daughter (2000) Dava Sobel turns to the historical figure of Galileo’s oldest child, Sister Marie Celeste, who was the scientist’s main confidante and supporter through his contentious relationship with the Catholic Church. Sobel has translated Marie Celeste’s remaining letters to her father and used them as a basis for this book, the subtitle of which is “A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love.”

5. In 1903 Mamah Borthwick Cheney and her husband Edwin hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new house for them. During the construction of the house Mamah and Frank fell in love, although each was married, with children. The two plunged into a life together that scandalized Chicago society. But Mamah Cheney remained merely a footnote to the life of the eminent architect until Nancy Horan brought her imaginatively to life in her 2007 novel Loving Frank

6. While kernels of history provided the sources for the previous books, Sena Jeter Naslund found the inspiration for her novel Ahab’s Wife, or The Star-Gazer (1999) in an earlier work of fiction. A brief mention in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick lead her to imagine a woman whose own life could stand beside that of the relentless Captain Ahab. Amazon calls this book “an enthralling and compellingly readable saga, spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life. At once a family drama, a romantic adventure, and a portrait of a real and loving marriage, Ahab’s Wife gives new perspective on the American experience.”

All these works of historical fiction demonstrate how writers can use their art to give voice to people who have been glossed over by history. I would prefer that novelists use their talents in this vein and leave still-living people to own their own stories.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation Fiction

6 Degrees of Separation: Books I Didn’t Like But More That I Did

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 What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, a novel I haven’t read.

1. The only book by Siri Hustvedt that I’ve read is The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, which my library book group read back in 1999. I remember nothing about this book except that I didn’t much like it, and nearly all the members of the group felt the same way. And that experience is why I’ve never read any more books by this author.

2. Ten years later (2009) another book, Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, produced a similar result. At our meeting one member opened with, “With friends like this, who needs enemies?” Everyone agreed with her. I have never read another novel by Kristin Hannah, even though she has become a very popular author. In fact, I’ve seen several book bloggers and Instagram readers refer to her as one of their “auto-buy authors,” meaning that they automatically buy every book the author publishes.

3. One of my “auto-buy authors” is Michael Connelly. His latest novel, which I preordered, is Fair Warning, published at the end of May 2020. Connelly started out as a journalist before turning into a full-time novelist.

4. Another author who started out as a journalist before turning to crime fiction is Edna Buchanan. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her newspaper work in 1986, but I love her crime novels set in Miami and featuring journalist Britt Montero. The first book in the series in Contents Under Pressure (1992). Buchanan is now in her 80s.

5. Mary Higgins Clark also wrote well into her golden years before she died on January 31, 2020, at age 92. She became known as the queen of romantic suspense. Her first novel, Where Are the Children? (1975), which I recently reread, is still one of the most suspenseful—and chilling—stories I’ve ever read.

6. Before Mary Higgins Clark, another Mary wrote many compelling romantic suspense novels that helped create the genre: Mary Stewart, who died in 2014 at age 97. Her first romantic suspense novel, Madam, Will You Talk?, was published in 1955. Her singular talent was combining romance with compelling mysteries that feature strong, capable women who have no fear of fending for themselves. During my high school and college years I marched against the Vietnam war while also devouring all of Mary Stewart’s novels, which formed a great backdrop for my own coming of age. 

So there we have it, a 6 Degrees of Separation list that progresses nicely from books that I didn’t like to books that I liked at lot.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

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6 Degrees of Separation Awards & Prizes Fiction

6 Degrees of Separation on My TBR Shelves

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 Sally Rooney’s best seller (and now a TV series), Normal People. I’ve had this novel on my TBR shelf since it first came out, and I had every intention of reading it before working on this month’s challenge.

However, unlike the people in Rooney’s novel, these times (COVID-19 pandemic and, here in the U.S., racial injustice with associated protests) are not normal, and I didn’t get a lot of reading done over the past month. Since I therefore am not ready to deal with Normal People thematically, I’ve had to look for another approach to this month’s challenge. A check on Goodreads revealed that Normal People received a lot of accolades:

Further digging revealed that I also have on my TBR shelves several novels that in the past received these same awards. 

1. Normal People was on the long list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019). The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a former winner of this annual prize.

2. Normal People was on the long list for the 2018 Booker Prize. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes received this award in 2011.

3. Normal People received the Costa Book Award for Novel in 2018. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry won the same award, plus the Costa Book of the Year Award, in 2016.

4. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton won the Booker Prize in 2013.

5. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders also won the Booker Prize, in 2017.

6. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread Award, which later became the Costa Novel Award, in 2015.

It’s comforting to know that I have so many good books still on my TBR shelves.  And I also discovered that I’ve already read several past prize winners:

  • Booker Prize: Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner (1984), Possession by A.S. Byatt (1990), and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)
  • Women’s Prize: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne
  • Costa Award (formerly Whitbread Award): The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by  Stuart Turton, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The moral of this story is that I should pay more attention to literary prizes in the future.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: All Roads Lead to . . .

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, in keeping with the theme of the current pandemic, the starting point is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In this evocative novel, a man and his son follow a road south in a post-apocalyptic world covered with ash and devoid of hope.

1. November Road by Lou Berney takes place in late November 1963. Frank Guidry, a mid-level mobster from New Orleans, realizes that, by delivering a get-away car to Dallas, he has become a loose end in one of the biggest events in American history. Without even returning home, Guidry hits the road for California in an effort to outrun the hitman he knows will be coming after him. On the way he meets a housewife who, with her two young daughters, has finally gotten up the courage to leave her no-good drunken husband in search of a new life in Los Angeles.

2. The characters in Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates buy a house on Revolutionary Road in the suburbs hoping it will provide them the picture-perfect life of the American dream.

3. “Road dogs” are prisoners who watch out for each other while in the big house. In Elmore Leonard’s novel Road Dogs two former road dogs team up after their release to navigate their return to the world of hustles, cons, and scams.

4. In Ace Atkins’s debut novel Crossroad Blues, former NFL player turned music professor Nick Travers investigates the disappearance of an academic colleague who has disappeared while researching the mysterious death of Blues legend Robert Johnson. The novel’s title is also the title of a song written and recorded by Johnson about where he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent.

5. Donald E. Westlake’s comic caper novel The Road to Ruin features Westlake’s beloved hapless crook John Dortmunder and his band of misfits attempting to steal a corrupt corporate CEO’s collection of valuable classic cars. Since this is a Dortmunder novel, their elaborate plan does not go well. 

6. After Irish mob hitman Michael O’Sullivan’s son witnesses one of his father’s jobs, O’Sullivan’s boss orders the deaths of the entire O’Sullivan family in The Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins. Michael and his adolescent son escape the attack that kills his wife and younger son. Father and son take to the road in search of safety for themselves and vengeance for the deaths.

All of these novels with the word road in their titles dramatize the metaphor of life as a journey. Whether the road functions as a means of escape or a path to salvation or paradise, it’s the journey rather than the destination that’s important.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: From “Wolfe Island” to “Me”

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 Lucy Treloar’s Wolfe Island. According to Amazon, this novel is not available in the U.S. (except in audio CD format for ~$50), although it was just published in summer 2019. Here’s the description of the book from Goodreads:

For years Kitty Hawke has lived alone on Wolfe Island, witness to the island’s erosion and clinging to the ghosts of her past. Her work as a sculptor and her wolfdog Girl are enough. News of mainland turmoil is as distant as myth until refugees from that world arrive: her granddaughter Cat, and Luis and Alejandra, a brother and sister escaping persecution. When threats from the mainland draw closer, they are forced to flee for their lives. They travel north through winter, a journey during which Kitty must decide what she will do to protect the people she loves.

Part western, part lament for a disappearing world, Wolfe Island (set off the northeast coast of the US) is a transporting novel that explores connection and isolation and the ways lives and families shatter and are remade.

From the comments on Goodreads, I see that the novel is about climate change, as Wolfe Island, along with many other coastal islands, has now become nearly uninhabitable, with millions of people worldwide losing their homes. The novel further addresses the issues of family, love, and treatment of refugees. 

1. Whenever I have to discuss climate fiction, my go-to illustration is the seminal ecofiction classic Dune by Frank Herbert. Herbert grew up in Tacoma, WA, USA, my recently adopted home town.

2. Most of Arrakis, the planet on which Dune is set, is covered with sand. Jane Harper’s novel The Lost Man also features a sandy desert landscape, the Australian outback. Nathan Bright returns to his family’s cattle station for the burial of his younger brother. 

3. While Harper’s novel features a man standing over his brother’s grave, My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni shows us a woman, Tracy Crosswhite, at her sister’s grave. The murder of her sister, Sarah, is what caused Tracy to become a homicide detective with the Seattle PD.

4. The novel Long Bright River by Liz Moore, which is in the next-up position on my TBR shelf, also features sisters. One is a police officer, while the other is buried deep in the opiod-addiction crisis.

5. In Two Kinds of Truth Michael Connelly’s fictional detective Harry Bosch goes undercover to investigate an operation using homeless people to obtain and fill prescriptions for opiods that are then sold illegally. Bosch befriends a woman who turned to drugs after the death of her teenage daughter many years earlier. He even helps her through rehab, but, eventually, unable to overcome her grief, she relapses and dies of an overdose.

6. So as not to end on a low note, I turn finally to another book waiting patiently on my TBR shelf, Elton John’s autobiography Me. After many years of abusing alcohol and drugs, he has now been clean and sober for nearly 30 years.

I always enjoy seeing where these free-association book chains end up. I hope you’ll consider participating in this monthly exercise.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: What Goes Around Comes Around

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 book that topped the critics ‘best of 2019’ lists, Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. I found a copy of Fleishman on the Lucky Day shelf at my local public library. The Lucky Day shelf houses a few copies of current, popular books—the kind of books that probably already have 100 or more pending requests. I had wanted to read this novel and felt lucky indeed to find it waiting for me.

1. The same day I found Fleishman Is in Trouble on the Lucky Day shelf I also found Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok, another book I wanted to read. Sylvie Lee, a woman in her 30s, travels from the U.S. back to Sweden, where she spent her first nine years, to visit her dying grandmother and pick up her inheritance of the family’s jewelry. Before her grandmother dies, she reveals a secret to Sylvie.

2. In Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star, the death of a grandmother triggers questions that finally lead to the revelation of family secrets.

3. The protagonist of The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware finds out about a grandmother she never knew she had when she receives legal notification that she has inherited her grandmother’s family house. On her trip to the house she meets more family members and finally learns about a whole bunch of secrets that her mother had never told her.

4. In The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, Libby Jones has known for most of her life that she’d find out about her birth parents on her 25th birthday. But she’s surprised to learn at the same time that she has also inherited from her grandparents an abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames that is now worth millions. And of course she has also inherited a whole truckload of dark family secrets.

5. From The Family Upstairs we move easily to The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, set in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nora Eldridge, a 37-year-old elementary school teacher who gave up her youthful ambitions of becoming an artist, finds the Shahid family, who move in downstairs, mesmerizingly fascinating. The husband, Skandar, is a Lebanese scholar here to take up a fellowship at Harvard. The wife, Sirena, is a glamorous and self-confident Italian artist. Their son, Reza, attends the school where Nora teaches, and through this connection Nora quickly insinuates herself into the Shahid family. Nora assumes that the Shahids feel the same way about her that she feels about them. When a casual occurrence reveals that Sirena doesn’t think of Nora as her bosom friend and confidant, Nora unleashes a torrent of rage and pent-up loneliness and frustration.

6. Nora’s rage leads us back around to Fleishman Is in Trouble, a novel that begins as the narrative of a failing marriage but ends as a statement of feminist anger about what happens to ambitious, intelligent women who overachieve.

What goes around comes around: a chain of six books that ends right back where it began.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation

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 the 2019 best-seller Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the story of the rise and fall of a fictional rock band in the 1970s.

1. Another novel that features characters from the music industry is A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) by Jennifer Egan. This novel received both the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award.

2. Richard Russo’s Empire Falls (2001) also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, in 2002. The novel is set in a now nearly dead former mill town in upstate New York. Although the population of the town has dwindled because of the lack of job opportunities, what remains of the town is still run by the aging daughter of the man who amassed a fortune from the operation of the mill.

3. The Blind Assassin (2000) by Margaret Atwood is another prize-winning novel, having received the Booker Prize in 2000. Like Empire Falls, The Blind Assassin  takes place in a now much diminished former mill town in upstate New York still run by the aging daughter of the man who amassed a fortune from the operation of the mill. The main character of this novel is haunted by the accomplishment of her sister, Laura Chase, who wrote a popular science fiction/fantasy novel before dying at an early age.

4. Colleen Hoover’s 2018 novel Verity also features an author named Laura Chase, though the author’s real name is Lowen Ashleigh. When popular author Verity Crawford has a car accident and is unable to complete the final three books of her wildly popular fictional series, Verity’s husband and her publisher hire Lowen to complete the series. Verity’s husband insists that Lowen write the books under a pseudonym, and together they come up with the name Laura Chase. When Lowen arrives at the Crawford house to work in Verity’s study, Mr. Crawford introduces Lowen to the household staff as Laura Chase.

5. One Verity naturally leads to another: Code Name Verity (2012) by Elizabeth E. Wein. Another prize winner (the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult in 2013), this novel tells the story of young women working as spies in World War II.

6. Kate Atkinson’s 2018 novel Transcription tells the story of Juliet Armstrong, who, in 1940 at age 18, was hired by British intelligence to transcribe notes from conversations with informants. Soon Juliet is pulled more deeply into the spy business.

Having skipped last month because the prompt brought to mind absolutely nothing, I was delighted that this month’s chain fell into place almost effortlessly. From musicians through writers to spies, with a few literary awards thrown in, this has been the story of 6 Degrees of Separation.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation Fiction

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

Categories
6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: From Three to Eight

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 book that everyone’s talking about – Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, which Goodreads describes as “the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written.”

Since I’m not interested in the subject matter, I’m going to approach this month’s list by the numbers.

1. Another book with three in the title is The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. In this science fiction book the author uses a well-known problem in physics and mathematics as the basis for an explication of China’s Cultural Revolution.

2. Next comes The Fourth Steven by Margaret Moseley, a humorous though dark mystery. Book rep Honey Huckleberry has three friends named Steven, but when someone named Steven calls her and confesses to murder, she’s pretty sure the caller isn’t one of them. Then, when her three Stevens start dying, the fourth Steven becomes the prime suspect. Yes, like so much in life, it’s complicated.

3. The anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five is Kurt Vonnegut’s best known work.

4. In Six Years by Harlan Coben, college professor Jake Fisher attends the funeral of Todd, the man he watched marry Natalie, the love of Jake’s life, six years earlier. But the grieving widow Jake glimpses at the funeral is not Natalie. Jake’s world begins to unravel as he searches for the truth about his past and about the woman he loved.

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the life story of an aging movie star who has a secret to reveal to the young writer she has chosen to do the work.

6. Robert Dugoni combines a thrilling spy story with a cerebral courtroom procedural in The Eighth Sister.

And just like that, we’ve gone from three women to eight.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown