Friday, May 5, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation - May 2017

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme that was started by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. It is currently hosted by Kate on her booksaremyfavouriteandbest blog, and normally runs on the first Saturday of the month. The main idea of this meme is to form a chain of books by linking something they have in common, kind of like forming a word ladder with common letters, and everyone begins their chains with the same book. Other than that, there are no set rules. You get to make your own!

This month, we are starting with The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I haven’t read this book, and really know nothing about it other than what I read in the synopsis at Goodreads. Here are the first couple of sentences.

“At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the slap.”

That immediately calls to mind a book I have read, Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, where something bad also happens when a group of friends are gathered at a barbeque. Both stories unfold as the characters give their different points of view.

As you may have figured out if you read my SIx Degrees of Separation post last month, Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors. Around the same time she released Truly Madly Guilty another of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, also released a book with a catchy three-word title, Small Great Things. This is a book with themes exploring racism and privilege, and is centered around a fictional nurse, Ruth Jefferson, a strong African-American woman who cares deeply about her teenage son.

Another book in which a main character is a strong African-American woman who cares deeply about her son is Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. Elizabeth Keckley is — no surprise here — the dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln during her years in the White House. But more than that, she is Mrs. Lincoln’s best friend and strongest supporter during those years.

Another book which features the word ‘dressmaker’ in the title is The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. This is the story of a young European woman who is a talented seamstress. She catches the eye of an important designer of the day, Lucille Duff Gordon, and is hired to accompany her to America aboard the Titanic. Obviously there is much more to the story, including testimony at hearings on the sinking of the Titanic, but the important point here is that she eventually becomes a dressmaker!

A book I read around the same time, and chose because it evoked the sinking of the Titanic when I saw the cover, is The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan. This is a completely different story having nothing to do with the Titanic, but it does have hearings as part of the aftermath of the sinking of a ship! The main character is Grace, a young woman who has very recently wed a wealthy young husband. The newlyweds were aboard the ship and Grace quickly finds herself widowed as a result of the sinking. She gives testimony at the hearings, and I was never sure how reliable that testimony was.

I’m ending my chain with another book featuring an unreliable narrator, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. This story is set about ten years later, during prohibition. Rose is in the typing pool for the local police department, typing up confessions of murderers and gangsters. As a young woman of this time, Rose eventually finds herself involved with some of the illicit happenings of the day, and things spin out of control. As she tells the story, we are never quite sure exactly what happened and when.

And there’s my chain; from The Slap to The Other Typist in six moves! Visit the current Six Degrees post on Kate’s blog to link up your chain and see what others have done with Room. Next month we will start with Shopgirl by Steve Martin. Be sure to come back next month to see what I do with it!

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  1. Unreliable narrators are a popular device these days. I enjoy the unease & suspicion this creates.

    I'm a bit of a Titanic buff, but the cover makes it look a bit too romance-y for my tastes (I disliked the movie a LOT - way too much romance-y stuff for my liking! But the actually sinking of the ship was fascinating.)

    Big Little Lies was a lot of fun & it got me hooked on Moriarty too.

    1. I am like you; I love books about the Titanic, but like you, I also did not enjoy the Titanic movie with the Rose & Jack romance. I am old enough to have watched the 'original' — A Night To Remember — with my Grandma when it was on TV. The Dressmaker does have it's share of romance, but strangley enough, that it not what I remember when I think about how much I enjoyed the book.

  2. I like the look of The Other Typist. Great links - I haven't read any of the books in your chain. It's fascinating to see how the chains end up in such different places from the same starting point.

    Margaret @ BooksPlease

  3. Fantastic chain - and snap!, we both started with Truly, Madly, Guilty. I think there are a lot of similarities between Moriarty and Picoult - they both manage to fictionalise topical and current ethical dilemmas.

    I loved The Other Typist - it's a book I still think about and that ending continues to plague me (in fact, I did something I NEVER do and wrote a blog post about the ending, giving plenty of warning about spoilers. It remains the most popular post on my blog, even years later - I suspect people finish the book and think 'WHAT?!' and hit google... which leads them to the discussion thread on my post. Still not any clearer about the ending, despite the 100+ comments!).

  4. Ooh, I loved The Other Typist! Have you read her second book, Three-Martini Lunch? It's great too. Love seeing where all the chains end up! :)

    1. I haven't read Three-Martini Lunch, but I will definitely check it out! Thanks!

  5. Good job! I loved Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and have had the Dressmaker on my TBR list since it came out. I'll see if I can get around to it. I love Liane Moriarty and have enjoyed a few of Jodi Picoult's books as well.

    Lisa @

  6. Great chain! I love unreliable narrators, you never know where they take you.