From “What I Loved” by Siri Hustvedt (inspired by a recent post by A Life in Books) to “The Beautiful Strangers” by Camille Di Maio.
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 “What I Loved” by Siri Hustvedt!
This month (July 4, 2020), the chain begins with Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved. According to Amazon, this novel begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo’s story, which spans twenty-five years, follows the evolution of the growing involvement between his family and Bill’s-an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men; their wives, Erica and Violet; and their children, Matthew and Mark. The families live in the same building in New York, share a house in Vermont during the summer, keep up a lively exchange of thoughts and ideas, and find themselves permanently altered by one another. Over the years, they not only enjoy love but endure loss-in one case sudden, incapacitating loss; in another, a different kind, one that is hidden and slow-growing, and which insidiously erodes the fabric of their lives.
When I read that blurb my first impression was that “What I Loved” sounded a little bit like the background story to the TV series “Grace and Frankie,” but without the bit where the two men end up being homosexual lovers, and then leave their wives to be with each other. Now, I don’t believe I ever read any books about friendly couples who switched partners like that. However, then I realized that Doris Lessing wrote a novella called “Adore” (aka The Grandmothers) where the two female protagonists end up in relationships (of one kind or another) with each other’s’ sons. There are more parallels between this book and our starting point, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers here!
Lessing’s story takes place along a coast in Australia, and the cover has people on a raft in the sea, so I thought maybe my next link should relate to water in some way or another, but there is also the dysfunctional relationships angle. That got me thinking about “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx. This stirring novel is about a quiet and simple man who is “accidentally interesting.” He moves to Newfoundland and gets a job writing for their local newspaper, and his job is to report, well… the shipping news, as the title suggests! This was made into a very mediocre film (with the now notorious Kevin Spacey terribly miscast in the main role), but the book is beautifully written, and very warmly recommended.
Ships… Of course, one of the most famous ships of all time has got to be the Titanic, so my next link is to a novel about three woman who survived that, “On a Cold Dark Sea” by Elizabeth Blackwell. This novel follows Esme, Charlotte and Anna, and how this event haunts them throughout their lives. While not a perfect novel, it was fascinating to read how Blackwell brings these divergent women together. I say divergent because Esme is an American first-class passenger, Charlotte, a British second-class passenger, and Anna, a Swedish third-class passenger, all of whom ended up on Lifeboat 21. To make this even more interesting, Blackwell gives each of these women a secret.
Another famous ship was the Lusitania, and the one book I read about that famous voyage was “On a Glass Ocean”. But I already used that book for this meme. However, the three authors of that book – Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White (aka Team W) – also collaborated on another novel “All the Ways We Said Goodbye,” so that’s my next link. This book spans both of the two World Wars and has a focal point location being at the Paris Ritz. Now, I really didn’t like the title of this book, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it in the least! In fact, I loved it! I especially appreciated how the three authors brought three women together (which also connects to Blackwell’s book), using three separate timelines.
The absolute obvious next book in this chain just has to be “Mistress of the Ritz” by Melanie Benjamin. This was one of my favorite books last year, and I can’t recommend it more warmly. This is a biographical, historical fiction novel about an American woman named Blanche, who in 1924 married Claude Auzello, a man who became the manager of the Ritz in Paris shortly after they married. Of course, we all know what happened to Paris several years later, and the Ritz ended up being overtaken by the Nazi commands. This novel delves into the lives of these real-life people, and how they succeeded in resisting their occupiers during the war, and how Blanche is able to hide her secret from everyone throughout it all.
For my last link, rather than go for the obvious connection of Paris (for which I have several options), I think I’ll go from one famous hotel to another. I’m talking about the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, where one of my favorite movies was filmed, “Some Like it Hot”. The novel that takes place at this famous hotel is “The Beautiful Strangers” by Camille Di Maio, and the novel even takes place during the shooting of the movie! I enjoyed this book, despite the paranormal inclusion of a ghost, because I appreciated how Di Maio drew this very spunky girl trying to break into the film industry, and mixed it with a woman who died under mysterious circumstances at this hotel, with both of them having the name, Kate Morgan (one of which really existed).
There you have it – my chain of books for this month. So… the question is, does this last book connect in any way back to our starting novel?
No, I’m afraid not! At least, I can’t see any connection, can you?
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 (August 1, 2020), we will begin with a niche non-fiction book that you probably haven’t read but has a COVID-timely title – How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell.