From “Sanditon” by Jane Austen to “Brother and Sister” by Joanna Trollope.
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 we started with “Sanditon” by Jane Austen.
- Link the books together in any way you like.
- Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favorite and Best.
- Share these rules in your post.
- Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
- Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
- Share you post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
- Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.
THANKS FOR PLAYING!
This month we start with the unfinished manuscript by Jane Austen for her novel “Sanditon.” When I looked this up on Amazon, I found that it was only about 59 pages long, so I decided to buy a copy. I have to say that I’m absolutely sure that had Austen had the chance to finish this book, this opening would have gotten a whole lot of editing, since frankly, it was confusing. However, the biggest shame is just when everything was set up for the story, the text ended. I’m absolutely certain that this would have been her most satirical of books, and it might have ended up being her best, but we’ll never know. Of course, not all unfinished novels stay that way, and I can see that some writers tried to finish this, but I didn’t bother looking deeper into any of them (if you have, I’d like to hear what you thought of any of them).
First Degree. As soon as I read our starting point book, I knew that the first link I would be making would be to another unfinished manuscript, but one that someone actually finished. I’m talking about the novel “Emma Brown” by Claire Boylan. See, when Charlotte Brontë, author of the classic novel “Jane Eyre,” died in 1855, she left behind 20 pages of a manuscript of a new novel, along with some other scraps of pieces she had been working on. Almost 150 years later in 2003, Irish author Clare Boylan took it upon herself to complete what Charlotte had begun. Despite this 21st century written book, it is truly a classic novel, and a credit to the Charlotte Brontë name and legacy. Mind you, there are elements that Boylan put into this novel that I’m certain no one from the Brontë era would ever have ever included in any of their novels. I forgave Boylan for this because, well sensitivities have changed somewhat over the past 150 years!
Second Degree. There’s another book that was started by one person and finished by someone else that I’ve read. That is, of course “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. Shaffer passed away before she could finish writing this book. I’ve always thought this such a shame because Shaffer only wanted “… to write a book that someone would like enough to publish,” and she came so close. Thankfully, her niece took up the mantle and decided to see her aunt’s life-long dream to fruition, and gave us an absolutely wonderful novel, that’s unforgettable (<announcer’s voice> Now a major motion picture! </announcer’s voice> which I haven’t seen, and I’m not sure I want to see). Even sadder to remember that we’ll never get another Mary Ann Shaffer book to read and enjoy, and this was such a lovely book, I can only imagine what she could have given us if either she’d lived longer, or started writing and publishing sooner.
Third Degree. Which reminds me of yet another novel begun by a favorite novelist who didn’t complete their last work. Paul Torday died quite suddenly (and pretty mysteriously, because I can’t see any reporting on how he died) in 2013 at the relatively young age of 67, not long after he’d released his 7th book. His debut novel “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” was a huge hit (which also became a major motion picture, which I have seen and quite liked. Of course, the book is better) in 2006. However, Torday’s son Piers found an unfinished manuscript of his father’s and decided to finish it and publish it posthumously. That novel was “A Death of an Owl” which is about a politician and a scandal and trying to hide it so he can promote his political career, which… sounds pretty timely to me (if not practically timeless). I think Piers did a pretty good job with finishing the book, but I have to admit, I kind of think I know where Paul’s writing ended and Piers took over. So, although that makes it an imperfect novel, it is still a very good effort.
Forth Degree. These last two books leave me with several options. I could go in the direction of collaborations; I could go in the direction of continuing where another author left off, or; I could go in the direction of family members being authors. If I go with the latter, I have quite a good choice. Since I already had the sister-writers’ book on a previous chain, I’ll go with the parental connection, with Lottie Moggach and her novel “Kiss Me First.” Why? Because Lottie is the daughter of Deborah Moggach, best known for her novel “These Foolish Things,” which was (yet again) made into the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel! This very compelling novel, made just for the internet age, is almost scary in its concept of a woman purposely taking on the online persona of another woman, in order to help her disappear from real life, without anyone finding out that she’s gone. And by gone, I mean – totally, and really gone. Quite a different type of book from her mother’s work!
Fifth Degree. From there we can go to an author who is the daughter of a different kind of writer – since her father is a songwriter. I’m talking of Eva Rice, daughter of Tim Rice (as in the man who collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Elton John on songs, musicals, and film soundtracks for such hits as Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Lion King, respectively), who wrote a really nice book called “The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets.” This delicious historical fiction novel had just the right amounts of romance to make it appealing to a large audience. Why I never read any of her other books is beyond me, because I really enjoyed her writing, even though it wasn’t as lyrical as you’d expect from the daughter of a songwriter. By the way, dear old dad Tim is presently the President of The London Library so it seems like the familial connection to books is pretty strong as well.
Sixth Degree. Another author with a most prestigious literary and creative family is Joanna Trollope. She’s got a mother who is a writer (no idea what she wrote, but no matter) but on her father’s side, she’s the fifth-generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope. I mean, that’s practically literature royalty. I’ve read several of Joanna’s novels, but only reviewed two on this blog. Of them, I like “Brother & Sister” the best, which also continues the family connections theme here. In this book, Trollope’s main characters are, of course, brother and sister, but they’re not biological siblings. In fact, they’re not genetically related to each other or to their parents, since they’re both adopted. The book investigates what happens when one of them decides to look up their birth mother. Talk about a timeless subject, right? I gave that book a full five stars. (I wish I’d reviewed other of her books here, several of which were made into very good movies or TV series.)
Now, the eternal question: does Jane Austen’s unfinished novel connect with Joanna Trollope’s book? Not, directly no, but… interestingly enough, all of these books in this chain have either TV or movie connections, because apparently this Jane Austen novel was just adapted and aired as an eight-part mini-series in the UK (and yes, I intend to watch it). Yes, I know that’s not a requirement of this meme, just a touch of icing on the top, and what makes this so much fun!
If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!
If you decide to join in on this meme, I hope you’ll give me the link to your post in the comments below, as well as on the linky page that Kate has on her blog for this meme.
Next month (January 4, 2020), we will start with “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid!