Woo hoo, it’s spring here down under, and in my street we have yellow wattles and daffodils blooming, plus pink prunus trees and white Manchurian pears. Bright spots in difficult times, and it does the heart good. However, I’m not here to talk about that but for this months Six Degrees of Separation meme. As always, if you don’t know this meme and how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
Once again, the starting book is one I haven’t read, though unlike last month’s, I have heard of the author. The book is American author Curtis Sittenfeld’s Rodham. According to GoodReads it “imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?” However, this is not where I’m going to go.
I said that I have heard of Curtis Sittenfeld, and the reason is because of her involvement in The Austen Project, her contribution being Eligible, a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and prejudice. My first link is from this to another retelling of Pride and prejudice, Jo Baker’s Longbourn (my review).
Longbourn was, I discovered, one of many books presented in England’s BBC4’s Books at Bedtime program. I was surprised to discover that another book broadcast on this program was our own (I mean Australia’s own) Elizabeth Harrower’s In certain circles (my review). How great is that!
And now, just to mix it up a bit, I’m going to link on circles and the fact that the circle is a symbol of infinity. This brought me to John Banville’s The infinities (my review).
Two main characters in The infinities can be described as infinite, meaning, in part, that they are immortal – the gods Hermes and Zeus. Gods aren’t the only things that are immortal. Cells can be too, as I learnt in Rebecca Skloot’s fascinating, heartrending, The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks (my review).
The story of African-American Henrietta Lacks’ cells should be a good one. After all, her cells have gone on to produce some significant medical advances. However, the way the cells were taken and used is a story of both ingrained medical arrogance and ongoing racism whereby the human behind these cells and her family were continually ignored and discounted. A closer-to-home book about the experience of racism is Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The hate race (my review).
Maxine Beneba Clarke’s heritage is mixed, her mother being Guyanese and her father Jamaican (Caribbean). Indigenous Australian author Tony Birch, like many of us, has mixed heritage. He claims a Barbadian (Caribbean) convict amongst his ancestry! I can’t resist making that my last link, though I could also link on the fact that Birch’s writing deals with racism. His most recent novel, The white girl (my review), deals very specifically with racism in contemporary rural and urban Australia.
I’ve been very narrow in my travels this month, staying in English-speaking countries, and keeping (mostly) to the last 100 years. I’ve returned to my usual gender breakdown – two men and four women. I started with what has been described as a “what if” imaginary novel, but I ended, unfortunately, with a novel that is far too real.
Now the usual: Have you read Rodham? And, regardless, what would you link to?