From “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles to “book” by author.
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 “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
This month (January 1, 2021), the chain begins with Amor Towles debut novel, “Rules of Civility.” I haven’t read this one, but according to Goodreads: “This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.” Kate picked this because the story begins on New Year’s Eve. However, the idea of someone trying to be part of a world they weren’t born into is going to be my inspiration this month, since I have a few books to choose from that include that theme.
My obvious first choice is one of Nella Larson’s stories from the collection of “Quicksand and Passing” which I read and reviewed in 2020. Both of these novellas (or short novels) are about African American women in the US. The story that feels like the best link to this particular theme is “Quicksand.” In that story, the protagonist is biracial, and it seems she cannot find her place among either the Black or the White communities, but she certainly tries. She also goes through some very lean times, while traveling in diverse circles, but eventually seems to continue to exist, albeit through the generosity of people she’s either unsure of, and/or complete strangers.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, how about someone high born being forced to live a lowly life? I’m talking about the Sue Townsend novel, “The Queen and I” which imagines what happens to Queen Elizabeth II and her family when the Parliament decides to abolish the monarchy and remove the whole of the royal family out of its palaces, and place them in public housing! Although it is terribly outdated now (because Princess Di was still alive when this scenario takes place), it certainly shows the other side of being a fish out of water! By the way, I understand that before she passed away, Townsend wrote another book like this, which is has a similar situation, but with Charles and Camilla being married when it all comes to pass.
This brings me back to another book where I read the first one, but not the sequel. The book I have in mind for this link is “Becoming Bonnie” by Jenni L. Walsh! In this book, Walsh investigates how a quiet, innocent back country girl gets mixed up with a thug to become one of the country’s most wanted criminals. I’m talking about the Parker girl who teamed up with Clyde Barrow and went on a thieving spree, and later the head of a group of bank robbers and murderers. This book only covers the earliest parts of Bonnie’s transformation from poverty stricken, abandoned teenage wife, to small-time criminal. I never got around to reading her sequel which obviously brings Bonnie out of obscurity.
On the other hand, I did read Walsh’s more recent novel “A Betting Woman” which is a novel of the woman who came to be known as Madame Moustache, and who was the world’s first croupier (male or female). Talk about someone rising from the ashes, and transforming their lives. This girl, who was known as Simone, leaves her home after losing her whole family to a disastrous fire. She changes her name, and goes west to San Francisco, and starts a whole new life as Eleanor Dumont, who deals Black Jack in gambling establishments. The fact that she did this in the Gold Rush era, meaning the mid- to late-1800s is what really is the surprise!
Another character who leaves her home in the hopes of starting a new life, appears in the novel “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katrina Bivald. In this story, Sara, the quiet, young Swedish bookworm, befriends Amy, an old woman living in a tiny outpost in Iowa with whom she has been corresponding. Mind you, here the loss is more when she arrives at her destination, when she finds out that between leaving Sweden and landing in Iowa, Amy has passed away. Still, that doesn’t stop her trying to make a new life for herself (prompted by the town’s residents), and reviving the tiny hamlet’s only bookstore that also becomes a type of library, using Amy’s old collection.
The library aspect connects directly to my last link here, which is also about collecting books and a woman who is hiding from her past. That novel is “The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. This is another biographical, historical, fiction novel about Belle da Costa Greene who was the curator for the famous J.P. Morgan Library. The fact that she was actually Black, and hid this from everyone, including her employer, is how I’m keeping to this theme. Had the truth of her heritage been obvious, Belle would have been barred from this world from the start, and being a woman was a barrier in and of itself. While I can’t imagine what a strain that would have had on her mentally, she seems to have transformed herself enough to succeed far beyond anyone’s expectations.