#6Degrees of Separation for October 3, 2020.

From “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James to “The Room” by Jonas Karlsson.

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 Turn of the Screw” by Henry James!

Turn of the Screw 4This month (October 3, 2020), the chain begins with the haunting novella “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James. Now, I haven’t actually read this in print, but… I sort of did, in a way. See, many years ago, the actress Claire Blume came to Jerusalem and she did a reading of this story which we went to see. So, in a way, I actually “read” a live audio version of this story, long before there ever were any audiobooks! And I remember it so vividly, the nice innocent way the story starts out, and how it gets darker and darker as those two children get more and more spooky. It brings chills up my spine just thinking about it. By the way, (and apropos of nothing) this story was made into an opera by the composer Benjamin Britain, which I haven’t seen, and I’m not going to use that fact for any link, since I believe I’ve exhausted all of my books with opera connections (which are far fewer than they probably should be, all things considered).

First Degree. 

519ff-reunionghostsblueI really wish I had reviewed “Flowers in the Attic” because that book came to mind as a great first link to this chain (but I’m sure someone will come up with it). However, with that not possible, I then thought about children and creepy things and I remembered the novel “A Reunion of Ghosts” by Judith Claire Mitchell, which despite the title, isn’t a paranormal or horror novel at all. It is actually a fictional story about the descendants of the man who developed a Nobel Prize winning fertilizer that became the essential ingredient for the toxic gasses that the Germans used in both world wars – first against the allies in WWI, and then to kill millions of Jews in WWII. It is pretty creepy to have that dark legacy in your family tree, and these three girls decide that they will end their lives rather than let another generation of their family to spring up. As harrowing as this sounds, you’d be surprised at how lightly Mitchell approaches this subject. Okay, a bit tenuous of a link but still… that’s the link, and it is one of those outlier books that people might never have heard about before.

Second Degree.

cb867-see2bwhat2bi2bhave2bdoneWhile the three Adler girls in the above novel were innocent offspring carrying the sins of their ancestor, one child who wasn’t so innocent was the infamous Lizzie Borden. Although never convicted of killing her father and step-mother, public opinion found her guilty. Sarah Schmidt delves into the mind of Lizzie in her novel “See What I Have Done,” the title of which comes from the rhyme made up about Lizzie after the murders. Schmidt’s book also brings her partially estranged sister into the story, in order to attempt to counterbalance Lizzie’s inconsistent story, and with the inclusion of some of the detective work on the crime, we can draw our own conclusions regarding both Lizzie’s sanity and her culpability. This is a fascinating novel was long-listed for the Women’s Fiction Prize for 2018, but… no, I’m not going to go that route for the next link in my chain… this time!

Third Degree.

432fa-alias2bgrace1If we’re going to talk about murder, what about a woman who was convicted of taking part in a double homicide, but whose sentence was commuted because no one was really sure if she was an active participant or an unwitting accomplice. I’m talking about the novel “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood, which is also based on the life of a real woman Grace Marks. Atwood lets Grace give her own account of what happened to her, to a doctor investigating her, in what seems like an absolutely meticulous recounting of the events, in precise chronological order. Obviously, the precision she uses makes her seem less sane and more unreliable as the tale unfolds. I found this book to be utterly stunning (but I never watched the TV series based on the book, although I did intend to do so).

Forth Degree.

Puzzle GirlWith this link, I’m going with the sanity/insanity connection. The historical figure who comes to mind is obviously Nellie Bly, and while I’ve already used one novel about her in these chains (“What Girls are Good For” by David Blixt), there is another book that I can use here. That being, “The Girl Puzzle” by Kate Braithwaite. In this novel, Nellie’s time under cover investigating the insane asylum is combined with Nellie’s later life and her charitable work. Braithwaite achieves this by having one of Nellie’s secretaries type up her personal notes, including the things that never got into the book she wrote about her investigations. What I liked about this book was that we got to see some of Nellie as an older woman, which was a time where she was out of the limelight, but still very active. It also impressed upon me that what she saw at the asylum probably affected her very deeply, and had some influence over the whole rest of her life.

Fifth Degree.

47e9b-ostrichMental health has to do with the proper functioning of your brain, so I’m going with that for my next link, which is about a boy who has a brain tumor removed. The novel is called “Ostrich” by Matt Greene. This is one of those very rare YA books I’ve read, but I found it to be very good (but not perfect, to be honest). In this book, we follow Alex, and how his world changes because of his condition (not the least of which is that he’s the only student allowed to wear non-religious headgear, because of his shaved head). What I found special about this novel is that Matt Greene gave us a unique story with a lovable protagonist who takes you on a weird and wonderful ride with his life, along with both the unhappy and beautiful things that Alex experiences because of his medical condition.

Sixth Degree. 

b8a62-the2broomChildren can be very cruel to someone who is different, like Alex, and that means he doesn’t always fit in, and that causes stress, which could account for some of the stranger things Alex is experiencing since his surgery. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways. In “The Room” by Jonas Karlsson, the main protagonist Björn, has just been promoted, and the stress he experiences does two things. First, he sets himself apart from his new colleagues, not letting them get close to him, and then he finds an empty office room, located between the elevator and the toilets. It is in this room where he finds solace. As I noted in my review Karlsson seems to be making a statement about conformity vs. individuality. If you read this novel, you’ll understand better how this book links to the previous one more fully (about which I can’t elaborate because… spoilers); you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

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?

Actually, I think they all connect – either through the creepy bits or through children or both, and yes, even in that last book, the protagonist acts very creepy!

If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!

#6Degrees 10 October 3 2020

If you decide to join in on this meme, I hope you’ll include 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 (November 7, 2020), is a FREEBIE month. Either you start with the last book in this chain, or if you’re a first-time participant, you start with the last book you read!

31 thoughts on “#6Degrees of Separation for October 3, 2020.

  1. I’ve read one book about Lizzie Borden but it was a horror mash-up of her story with Lovecraftian monsters. Maybe not your cup of tea but a fun take on it nevertheless! You’ve made me realize that I can probably sum up everything I know about Nellie Bly in one sentence. I should look for one of the books you mentioned. A Reunion of Ghosts sounds like a heavy family history to carry. Great chain!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooo, you’re right, this is a dark chain! But dark is good! I have read two on your list – See What I Have Done and Alias Grace. I like the sound of A Reunion of Ghosts and must see if I can hunt out a copy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This was my first Braithwaite. I had just read another book about Nellie Bly by David Blixt and she asked me if she could give me her ARC to this book so I could read and review it. I would certainly be willing to read more books of hers.

      Like

  3. I like this one! Great chain. I did read Flowers in the Attic back in the day, when I was a teenager. I got quite into the whole series and then one other series by that author too. At the time, I thought they were so good. Looking back, I just slightly disturbed by the author’s obsession with incest.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The TV version of Alias Grace is excellent – definitely give it a look some time. And like Martie, your mention of Flowers in the Attic whizzed me right back to the 80s!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve wanted to watch Alias Grace for some time too. It’s on my Netflix list, but I keep pushing it off for times when I’m more courageous. (And I wonder why they have that half-eaten apple on the cover of See What I Have Done — that really caught my eye.) Happy #6Degrees and see you around for the curveball next month.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a pear on the cover… in the book, there’s a pear tree in the house’s garden and Lizzie eats some…

      As for the curve-ball… no problem. I’ve already written it up and scheduled it!

      Like

  6. Terrific chain. I agree that See What I Have Done was a fascinating novel (although I didn’t particularly like it!). Probably surprising to many, but I did not know the story, so it really was a gripping read.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. A great chain including two books I’ve read (plus The Turn of the Screw). I loved Alias Grace, one of my favourite Margaret Atwood books and See What I have done is truly horrific!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great chain, with some books that really intrigue me Davida. I have wanted to read See what I have done since it came out, but I fear I may not get to it now. I LOVED Alias Grace. Such a good story, so well written. And your “outlier” book by Mitchell is indeed one I haven’t heard of and that I’d be interested in.

    Liked by 1 person

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