From “The Dry” to “What Girls are Good For.”
This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are here in this graphic:
This month (May 4, 2019), the chain begins with Jane Harper’s best-selling debut novel, The Dry.
According to Goodreads this book is about a small town that hides big secrets “in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper. In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain. Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier. But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.”
First Degree: The Dry is not a book I’ve read, and while it sounds interesting, I’m not sure I would read it myself. But to get to the next degree of separation, I immediately hit on the words “small town” and “secrets” which brought me immediately to think of Elizabeth Strout’s “My Name is Lucy Barton.” In this book, Lucy has moved away from the small town she was born into, and with her success and departure, she somehow thinks she can also get away from the secrets of her past.
Second Degree: That bit about trying to leave your past behind you, and becoming someone different, brought me to think of “Carnegie’s Maid” by Marie Benedict. The titular character in this book ends up working for the Carnegie family simply because she shared the name of another woman (that probably died on board the ship bringing them from Ireland to the US) who was supposed to get that position.
Third Degree: That connects back to Ireland… which brings me to one of my favorite authors, who happens to be Irish, Maggie O’Farrell. Now, I must admit that although I’ve enjoyed all of her books, including the very hard to read autobiography “I am, I am, I am” I can’t help but always return to the first book of hers I ever read, which to this day is my all-time favorite of hers, “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.” This novel starts out when Iris finds out that her grandmother Kitty wasn’t an only child after all; her sister Esme has been living in a mental ward all her life – since she was only 16. But with the hospital closing down, Iris is forced to take the elderly Esme off their hands. Trying to discover why this seemingly normal woman was institutionalized ends up being an all-consuming quest for Iris.
Fourth Degree: From here I could go one of two ways – either the mental illness/disability route, or the elderly relative route. While I can think of several books for both of these options, I think that the most appropriate book here is probably Fredrik Backman’s “My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologies” since we get both a grandmother who some think is a touch off her head, and an illness that puts her in hospital, together with no small amount of quests that she gives to her granddaughter. By the way, one of the interesting things in this book is how Backman shows a young child’s imagination, where a very large, dog is described as a type of protective monster.
Fifth Degree: It was through this monster reference that I came to connect that book with “The Determined Heart” by Antoinette May, which is a novel is about Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who was the woman who wrote the novel “Frankenstein.” Well, you can’t find a more iconic monster in the world, right? I’ve never read that book, and I don’t intend to (and I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the horror movies, although I thought the satirical version by Mel Brooks was hysterical, and a classic). That aside, you really have to admit that such a book, written when it was, and by a woman no less, was quite out of the ordinary, if not totally exceptional. Which brings me to the final…
Sixth Degree: Of course, the connection here was easy – the first woman to do something out of the ordinary. With that, I was once again a bit spoiled for choice. One good choice is “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk” by Kathleen Rooney, which is a thinly veiled biographical fiction novel about Margaret Fishback, who was arguably one of the very first woman to work in advertising. Then again, maybe I should go with “Girl in Disguise” by Greer Macallister; the biographical, historical fiction novel about Kate Warne, the first woman investigator for the Pinkerton Detective Agency? But then I thought, the truth is I should really go with “What Girls are Good For” by David Blixt, which is about the famous Nellie Bly, the first woman (if not the first of any gender), undercover, investigative journalist.
If you enjoyed this meme, you might want to take part next month. It will take place on June 1, and begin with Will Eaves’s novel, Murmur, which was released on April 9, 2019.