From “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy to “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards.
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:
- Link the books together in any way you like.
- Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favourite 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 Road” by Cormac McCarthy!
This month we start with “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. On Amazon, it says that “The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.” This is a post-apocalyptic novel, which Kate chose because she says she feels like we’re living through a type of apocalypse with COVID-19. I haven’t read this book, and I probably won’t read it. This isn’t really my thing, to be honest – Pulitzer Prize or not.
Since I don’t generally read these types of books, I was worried how I’d start this chain. However, something else in the blurb made me think – “Attempting to survive in this brave new world, the young boy and his protector have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves. They must keep walking.” So, how about a journey? The first one that came to mind is my second favorite Michael Ondaatje novel “The Cat’s Table” which is a semi-autobiographical story about a young boy who travels 21 days on an ocean liner from Sri Lanka to London, much like Ondaatje did himself when he was also only 11-years-old. This is such a beautiful novel; I encourage everyone to read it.
Another book that’s also about a journey, although not on an ocean liner, but one undertaken totally on foot, is “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk” by Kathleen Rooney. This story uses an extended late-night walk on New Year’s Eve (with some stops at familiar places along the way), through the streets of New York as a catalyst for Lillian Boxfish to look back on her life. Much like the walk itself, this book meanders along with just gentleness and tenderness, it is bound to touch your heart. Plus, it is based on the life of a real woman, which makes it a semi-biographical novel, that links nicely with the first book I chose for this chain.
A similar type of journey takes place in Rachel Joyce’s debut novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.” In this book, Harold Fry gets a letter telling him that an old work colleague of his, Queenie Hennessy, is dying. In her letter she says that she wrote to say goodbye. Instead of writing back to her, Harold impulsively starts walking because he feels the need to see her once more. The problem is, he lives half way across the country, and he ends up having to walk 600 miles across England to get to her. Of course, along the way, he recalls their relationship (and no, he didn’t have an affair with her). This was the book that made me into a Rachel Joyce addict, and I can hardly wait to read her upcoming novel, “Miss Benson’s Beetle” which is due out in June.
Another book that includes a journey of going towards something is “Instructions for a Heatwave” by Maggie O’Farrell. In this book, similar to Harold Fry who goes out to get the mail and walks away, Robert Riordan goes out to buy a newspaper and doesn’t come home to his wife Gretta. When Gretta realizes he’s not coming home, she starts out on a journey of her own, taking her three grown children with her to Ireland to find out where Robert has gone. This, of course, leads to all of them to not only travel in search of someone, but also on their own personal journeys to investigate the truths of their own lives, past and present. Of all of O’Farrell’s stories, I think that this one struck me as being the most complex and in-depth in how she portrays each of the characters. My personal sympathies were drawn to Aiofe (pronounced EE-fah, Irish for Eva), the youngest of the children who suffers from severe dyslexia – something I know too much about from my own personal experience.
Of course, not all journeys that include self-discovery are ones that take a protagonist towards something or someone. Some of them are made to take a character away from something or someone. That’s why my next book is “Keeping Lucy” by T. Greenwood. When Ginny Richardson finds out that her husband has put her Down’s Syndrome daughter into a horrible institution, she kidnaps her and goes on a road trip to Florida with her son in tow, to find a way to save her daughter from a fate worse than death. This physical journey is also an emotional one, for both Ginny and her husband. Aside from the fact that I enjoyed this book, I also really love the cover art they used, which I think is actually perfect.
In my review of that last book, I made a connection between it and a book that was a huge sensation when it came out, but which I didn’t care for all that much (because of the plot holes, not because of the writing). I’m talking about “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards. Although I don’t like to include books in these chains that I haven’t received at least 4/5 stars, the link here is so strong that I really couldn’t avoid it in this instance. The story begins when Dr. David Henry’s wife Nora gives birth to twins. The boy is fine, but the girl Phoebe has Down’s Syndrome. David gives Phoebe to his nurse, Caroline, to take to an institution, but tells Nora that the girl died. However, Caroline can’t bring herself to put such a sweet child away, and instead, kidnaps her to raise on her own. There are many reasons why this book only got three stars from me, but one thing it has in common with the previous book in this chain, is really good cover art. Also, who knows but you might be willing to overlook my niggles and enjoy this book.
There you have it – a chain of books that all contain some kind of journey. So… the question is, does this last book connect in any way back to our starting book?
Well, both were highly popular when they were published, both came out in the first decade of the 21st century, and both were made into movies, so there are those things. Plus, Caroline moves to Pittsburgh to raise Phoebe, and the film of “The Road” was partially filmed in Pennsylvania. Yes, these are tenuous connections, but that’s the best I can do this time!
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, and/or put your link on the linky page that Kate has on her blog for this meme.
Next month (June 6, 2020), we will start with Normal People by Sally Rooney.