Six degrees of separation, FROM Sanditon TO …

And so we come to the last Six Degrees of Separation meme of the year, and Kate has chosen a special book (for me anyhow) as our starting book. However, first, I need to tell you that if you are new to blogging, and don’t know what this meme is about, please check host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

Jane Austen, Lady Susan, The Watsons, SanditonLast month’s starting book, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, is of course a classic. This month’s would have been a classic I’m sure, if only the author had managed to finish it. The book is Sanditon (my review) and it was written – well, 11 chapters anyhow – by Jane Austen. Kate chose it, as you probably know, because Andrew Davies’ television adaptation (of his version of the completed story) is currently being broadcast. Of course I have read it, more than once …. making five the number of starting books I’ve read this year.

Thea Astley, DrylandsFor my first link, I’m choosing Thea Astley’s Drylands (my review) which might sound surprising, though, like Austen’s book it is set in a small (non-urban) community. However, the reason I’m linking to it is not that, but because Drylands was Astley’s last novel (albeit she managed to finish hers before she died.)

Tara June Winch, Swallow the airNow, Drylands has an unusual form. It is a novel, really, but it can read like a collection of short stories, which are written by someone called Janet. Another novel that can also be described as a collection of short stories, though not quite as tricksy in form as Astley’s, is Tara June Winch’s Swallow the air (my review). Coincidentally, it is a debut novel (as opposed to Astley’s swan song one!)

Karen Viggers, The orchardist's daughterAnd here I’m going to change tack and move from Australia to France. Tara June Winch now lives in France, and has for some years. An Australian author who sells very well in France is, in fact, local Canberra writer, Karen Viggers. Her novel, The orchardist’s daughter (my review), has, like her previous novels, been translated into French. Its title is Le Bruissement des feuilles, which is, in English, The rustle of leaves. Hmm… I could link to another book published with a different title overseas, but we’re going to (sort of) stay in France …

John Clanchy, Sisters… and link to a book by an Australian writer (another Canberran in fact) that was drafted at a writer’s retreat in France and published by the people, La Muse, who are behind that retreat. The author is John Clanchy and his book, Sisters (my review).

So far I’ve been a bit nationalistic in my French links, so next I’m linking to a book by – an English writer! Did I trick you there? However, it is about French people, Caroline Moorhead’s biography Dancing to the precipice: The life of Lucie De La Tour Du Pin, Eyewitness to an era (my review)which is set before, during and after the French Revolution.

Pierre Lemaitre, The great swindleAnd finally, because of course I had to do it, a book actually written in France by a French writer. I’ve read a handful of French writers since I started blogging, so the choice was a bit of a challenge. However, given the flamboyance of some of the French aristocracy covered by Moorehead in her book, I thought perhaps Pierre LeMaitre’s novel,The great swindle (my review), with its damaged but flamboyant character, Édouard Péricourt, would be the best match. (These last two books could also be linked by the fact that I probably wouldn’t have read them had they not been chosen by my reading group!)

So, we started in England with Austen, before moving to Australia. We then dallied a little longer in Australia, but with French connections, before finally landing in France. We have covered over two centuries in our travels, and have, as often seems to be the case with my Six Degrees, met four women and two men authors.

And now, my usual questions: Have you read Sanditon? And, regardless, what would you link to? 

38 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Sanditon TO …

    • Haha, M-R, thanks, but dare I say then that you don’t know many people!? No, let me rephrase that, you don’t know many big readers! [grin] I am far from well-read but I do my best to make a fist of it.

  1. Hi Sue,;you did surprise me with Drylands! I have read Sandiion. My link was with other novels that were not finished by the author or ones supposedly finished by another author. The Love of the Last Tycoon by F Scott Fitzgerald; The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov; The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz (Stieg Larsson); The Pale King by David Foster Wallace; Micro by Michael Chrichton and Richard Preston and The Trial by Franz Kaffa.

    • Oh good Meg, that was my aim. I thought of going the unfinished route but decided to do something a bit different. I’m glad you did though because it’s a really interesting way to go!

  2. So many writers have left books unfinished…

    How about if we make the next book the Aeneid, for Virgil had not finished it when he died–editors identify lines that he hadn’t quite decided on, and that have a lapse of some words.

    Next will be Herman Broch, for his novel The Death of Virgil (I haven’t read it, but gave it to a friend.)

    Third, “On the Iliad” by Rachel Bespaloff, collected in NYRB’s War and the Iliad: Broch’s wrote an afterword that appears in this edition. Broch’s afterword is wonderful, but then Bespaloff’s essays got the endorsement of Robert Fitzgerald, who likely was the master translator of Homer for the American 20th Century.

    Fourth, a double jump, to The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was unfinished at Fitzgerald’s death, and pulled together by Edmund Wilson. Wilson was married for some time to Mary McCarthy, who translated Bespaloff’s essays.

    Fifth, because really why not is A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, left unpublished at his death. I think it a thoroughly mean-spirited, probably mendacious book, but a) in America, Fitzgerald and Hemingway go together like burgers and fries or rice and beans, b) Fitzgerald appears in it–of course to great disadvantage–and c) it provides a handy transition.

    To sixth, In Search of Lost Time, two thirds of which came out after Proust’s death. James Joyce makes a cameo or two in A Moveable Feast, and Joyce and Proust did once meet, though apparently they didn’t make much of each other.

    (I see, and regret, that my list is heavily male–are women better at finishing books, or do they just not get credit for the unfinished?)

    • I love that you join in each month George, with your very particular knowledge of literature and writers’ lives, some of which I know but much of which I don’t. For example, I knew that Wilson was married for some time to Mary McCarthy, but didn’t know she’d Bespaloff’s essays. And I love your description of Hemingway and Fitzgerald going together!

      Good question at the end. One is inclined to believe the latter though standing up for my sex, I’d like to think the former!

  3. Thanks for this post. I read Sanditon and am looking forward to seeing the series. I loved how she describes a seaside town under siege of newcomers (feels familiar!) but was most interested in Miss Lamb who’s from the West Indies (which is in my heritage). Lamb is an interesting name suggesting meekness/weakness etc – so I’d link to Jean Rhys’ classic novel Wide Sargasso Sea, (which could lead to Jane Eyre) but instead I’d go to Caryl Phillips’ dazzling novel Cambridge set on St Kitts which turns the usual narrative of slavery on its head, and then to the brilliant Andrea Levy’s The Long Song set on Antigua (also a fantastic TV BBC series), and then to Sienna Brown’s beautiful new novel Master of My Fate set in Jamaica and convict Australia where the author now lives. Having said all this, I now realise I have no idea how many am I meant to link to??? And if I’m meant to end up in Australia??

    • Haha, Emma – it’s 6 degrees, so you have to come up with six books. And, no, you don’t have to end up in Australia. This is an international meme so you can wander to your heart’s delight.

      I love your first link on the implications of Lamb, btw.

  4. I haven’t read Sanditon, I’d be uncomfortable reading something unfinished. My first link was to an author who also left an unfinished work that was completed, and continued by someone else.
    Thanks for sharing your chain

  5. Apart from Sanditon, I haven’t read any of the books in your chain although I very much appreciate that your links are more like intricate little webs 🙂

  6. I was thinking Jane/June/John are more or less the same and that was where you were going but enjoyed the progression you created! I want to read more books with an Australian focus. Someone recommended The Secret River in a chain a couple months ago and I have it on CD waiting for my next long drive.

    • Haha, Constance, thanks for commenting and sharing what you thought I was doing. That’s great.

      The Secret River is a good read. I hope you enjoy it. Grenville is one of our well-regarded writers.

  7. There was a theory (from my career in publishing) that the year Rosamund Pilcher took of (after she had been writing similar, if shorter, books for years) that every bookseller (pre-internet) simultaneously said that The Shell Seekers was the perfect book for one’s mother! Good storytelling, no bad language, only the hint of sex. Publishers yearn to be able to capture or influence this group think but despite marketing budgets it is very hard to predict!

    That being said, I do think D.E. Stevenson is a good gift for your mother, and pretty easy to find a copy.

  8. What an interesting list, WG, and so far away from Sandition. I didn’t know about Andrew Davies’s adaptation. We don’t have it in Canada. Is it on Australian TV? Hope I get a chance of viewing it in the near future. Maybe Netflix 🙂

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