From “The Bass Rock” by Evie Wyld to “Unleavened Dead” by Rabbi Ilene Schneider.
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 Bass Rock” by Evie Wyld!
This month (June 5, 2021), the chain begins with The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld, which (hurrah) is a book I read and reviewed last year! Kate chose it because it just won the Stella Prize for 2021. Now, I get why this won the prize, because her prose is something amazing to behold. In my review, I actually compared Wyld’s prose to that of my favorite author’s, Michael Ondaatje, whose novels are beautifully poetic. That said, I was a bit lost with the substance of the story, and I only gave it three out of five stars, because I was confused what was happening much of the time. Be that as it may, my sincere congratulations to Wyld for winning this prize, and I did appreciate how beautifully it was written. (That’s why I really would like to read more by her, and I hope to fulfill that wish, some day!)
My first instinct was to go with a book with another fish in the title, but I see I never finished writing my review of “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” by Paul Torday. That’s why I went with another prize winner, and in particular, last year’s Women’s Prize winner, which was also my #1 favorite book of 2020, meaning the masterpiece “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. (I told you that even though this was a starting point for a previous #6Degrees, that I reserved the right to use it in one of my future chains; I’m doing so now!) This novel was just so blow-your-mind amazing from start to finish (even though my sister couldn’t finish it. Oh well… no two people read the same book), that it takes my breath away. Viewing Shakespeare’s life from his wife’s point of view, especially when so little is known about him to begin with, was pure genius. And to center it around the death of his only son, was inspired! If you haven’t read it, you must at least try.
So, Hamnet’s sister was named Judith (and in fact, one US version of O’Farrell’s book was actually called “Judith and Hamnet”). That immediately brings me to another one of my favorite novels from this blog, “The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt” by Andrea Bobotis, which was my #1 favorite book of 2019. This debut novel just knocked me off my feet, and I truly hope that Bobotis releases something else soon, because I’m hungry for more of her stories. This one is about a woman who is getting older, and decides to make an inventory of all the items of value in her home. Through this, she tells the story of her youth and life in a mostly rural part of South Carolina. Obviously, since this book spans a major part of the 20th century, starting in the 1920s, race and prejudice come into play, with some surprising revelations about Judith’s family. Another must read from me!
I’m using racism as the link to my next book, and the book that came to mind first is “Fast Girls” by Elise Hooper. This is the story of the US women’s track team who were sent to the Olympics games in Berlin, Germany in 1938. Obviously, these games took place under the growing shadow of Hitler, which also highlighted racism and antisemitism across the globe. Several of the main figures in this story were the African-American girls who qualified to participate, together with the white girls. Needless to say, Hitler was not happy about even the chance of any of the Black women (or Jews) beating any of his pure, master race of German Arians. You can easily imagine the difficulties these women experienced, especially when there was already prejudice against these women within their own teams. Well worth the read if you’re interested in the period that led up to WWII.
Both racism and races brought me to “The Race for Paris” by Meg Waite Clayton. While my previous book took place before WWII, this one is the story of the photojournalists who wanted to be in Paris to document the ousting of the Nazis near the end of WWII. This is an inspiring and harrowing tale of those non-combat people who tried to keep the world properly informed of the state and stage of the war for those back home. That they did all this, putting their lives in danger, as the war waged around them, is nothing short of miraculous. Here too, it was the women that are highlighted, albeit fictional ones, and their savvy and ingenuity to be the first to send out their photos of the liberation of Paris. That achievement would not only bring them fame, but personal satisfaction at being able to document an important event in history.
Journalism in general is my next link in my chain, and one journalist in particular who infiltrates a world that few are allowed into. I’m speaking of the novel “Invisible City” by Julia Dahl, which was the first of her Rebekah Roberts series of novels. Rebekah was just starting out in the world of front-line reporting when she gets involved in a murder within the Jewish, ultra-Orthodox community in New York. Rebekah’s mother Aviva escaped that community to give birth to her. But it is harder than you think to get out from under that world’s clenches, and eventually Aviva found herself pulled back in; abandoning her daughter was the price she paid for her betrayal. I also read the second novel in this series, “Run Her Down” in which Rebekah finally meets up with her estranged mother, Aviva, but that book will be held for another chain.
The name Aviva is where I’ve found my last link. I’m talking about Rabbi Aviva Cohen, the female rabbi in New Jersey who ends up doing some amateur sleuthing when there’s a murder discovered in the community. I already used the first book in this series by Rabbi Ilene Schneider, so this time I’ll go with the second one, called “Unleavened Dead” which is a play on “unleavened bread,” which is what Jews call Matzah. I’m sure most of my readers know that Jews are not allowed to eat regular bread during Passover (also known as Pesach), so of course, this murder takes place around this holiday. Yes, bad puns in the titles, but I forgive Ilene for this – they’re all her son’s ideas, and she’s actually a personal friend I real life. Also, these are such fun books, we can ignore the small groans that these titles induce.