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Six degrees of separation, FROM Turn of the screw TO …

October 3, 2020

One month into spring here down under, and it is so lovely, particularly with daylight savings starting tomorrow. That will hopefully mean not being woken at 5am by sun and birdsong, much as I enjoy the latter! Now though, onto today’s business, this month’s 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 I have read and enjoyed several books by Henry James. The book is his Turn of the screw. Published in 1898, it’s a classic Gothic mystery featuring a young governess, in a country house.

Louise Mack, Girls togetherI was tempted to go with governesses for my first link, but decided to do something different and go with year of publication. Louise Mack’s Girls together (my review) is a little known Australian coming-of-age novel that was also published in 1898. Commencing as a school story, it’s about protagonist Lennie’s transition from self-focused girlhood to adulthood and its associated more mature world-view. Her life and choices are paralleled to those of her friend, Mabel.

Book coverAnother book which starts with young girls who meet at school – at Vassar College in fact – is Mary McCarthy’s The group (my review). In this case, however, we are talking eight girls, and we follow them through many years of their post-school life.

Book coverMy next link will be obvious to Australians as it is a book which talks about a group of women friends at the other end of their lives – that is, women in their 70s. The book is Charlotte Wood’s The weekend (my review).

Book coverWhile the main focus of Wood’s book is the women, there is another important character, Finn, the aging dog. He doesn’t have a voice in the novel, but a dog who does is Maf the dog in Scottish writer Andrew O’Hagan’s The life and opinions of Man the dog and of his friend Marilyn Monroe (my review). Phew that’s a title, but it was, as I recollect, an enjoyable book!

Book coverAnd here is where I get to the point I really wanted to get to because today, Saturday 3 October, is National Bookshop Day in Australia (or, it seems, now called Love Your Bookshop Day). You may be wondering how I am going to link to this? Well, Marilyn Monroe, as you probably know, was a big reader, so I’m linking to author Ann Patchett’s essay, The bookshop strikes back (my review). I reckon Marilyn Monroe would have loved this little book had she still been with us.

Book coverTo strengthen this post’s tribute to bookshops, I’m sticking with them for my final link. Ann Patchett, as you also know I’m sure, is an independent bookshop owner as well as an award-winning novelist. I included her in my post on author-run bookshops last National Bookshop Day. Another bookshop-owning author I listed in that post was Louise Erdrich, so it’s her The bingo palace (my review) that I’m using for my final link.

Although I didn’t intend it, I’ve stuck very much to anglo-speaking countries this month – Australia, Great Britain and the USA. Moreover, all my authors but one, this month, were women. Not wonderfully diverse then! However, on the plus side, I did manage to work in a tribute to reading and bookshops, because initially I’d headed off in a different direction. 

And just so you know, my favourite fabulous bookshops here are: National Library of Australia Bookshop, Paperchain Bookstore and Harry Hartog Bookseller (Woden).

Now, the usual: Have you read Turn of the screw? And, regardless, what would you link to? 

And, this month  a bonus question: Would you, wherever you are, like to give a little shout-out to your favourite independent bookshop? 

66 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2020 10:19

    Such an interesting chain of books. Loved the variety – need to check out several.

    • October 3, 2020 10:46

      Thanks Bev … it’s a fun meme isn’t it.

    • October 3, 2020 11:00

      Everyday is Love your bookshop in my life. I would be completely lost without our wonderful 100 year old bookshop, Fullers in Hobart. Lovely selection of books. 🤠☕🐧

  2. October 3, 2020 10:48

    Turn of the Screw is the only book in the chain that I have read. Your links are so interesting. lack creativity and probably would have linked it to another ghost story or horror book.

  3. October 3, 2020 10:54

    I don’t have a single favourite independent bookshop, but during normal times I often travel for work throughout regional Victoria and always look out for bookshops in country towns. Blarney Books and the Ironbird Bookshop in Port Fairy are both great, I also like Bellbird Bookshop in Hamilton and Booktique in Wangaratta.

    • October 3, 2020 12:47

      I haven’t been to Port Fairy in decades Rose, but I’ll look out for Booktique next time I’m in Wangaratta…. When, that is, we can drive to Melbourne again!

      • October 4, 2020 15:20

        Hopefully it won’t be too long until you can visit Victoria again, Sue. Wangaratta is a good place to stop and stretch your legs along the way.

        • October 4, 2020 17:44

          Haha yes, Rose, though by stop we mean stay overnight. We never do the trip in one day, preferring to meander through various towns. Sometimes we stay at Wangaratta, sometimes Bright, sometimes we go down the CannRiver route and stay around there, etc. we don’t like long drives but do like visiting country towns.

        • October 5, 2020 17:30

          What a lovely way to travel! I much prefer our meandering travels to my work trips, which are always by the most direct route. Getting off the main highway is always a treat.
          As a child when we went out for a drive Dad would always get to the end of our driveway and ask “left or right?”

        • October 5, 2020 19:38

          Oh, that’s great. For my Dad it was definitely the destination, not the journey. On the other hand, my husband and I always say as we head out to drive, “Off to see the wizard!” We have been know to drive home to Canberra from Melbourne via Wagga and Junee!

  4. Meg permalink
    October 3, 2020 11:15

    I have read a few novels by Henry James, and the Turn of the Screw is one of them, which I liked. I continued the link with eerie like Australian novels: The Engagement by Chloe Hooper; Disquiet by Julia Leigh; Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay; Sing Fox to Me by Sarah Kanake; Cape Grimm by Carmel Bird; and The Chosen Vessel by Barbara Baynton. Unfortunately I don’t have have an independent book shop near me. So the one in Melbourne (whenever I am allowed back) I will visit is The Hill of Content Bookshop – top of Bourke Street. And when in Hobart, Fullers Bookshop.

    • October 3, 2020 13:21

      Eerie Australian novels is a great way to go, Meg, and of course the plus is that I know a few of them, and have reviewed a couple here.

      I know Hill of Content, though when we are in Melbourne we are more likely to go to Readings, and when in Hobart it’s usually to the shop my brother loves. It’s the one in Salamanca Place, and is called the Hobart Bookshop I think? It’s such a packed shop. But next time I’m in Hobart I really will have to check out Fullers because Pam mentions it all the time.

  5. October 3, 2020 14:31

    Oh, I wish I’d thought to link my chain to Love Your Bookshop Day (although I am about to love my local bookshop by visiting it this afternoon). The Weekend is on my TBR list.

    • October 3, 2020 16:06

      Thanks Melinda – I was rather chuffed when I came up with the idea and then when I could make it happen. But, you are doing the best thing and visiting one!

  6. October 3, 2020 15:49

    I’ve just put in my orders at my favourite bookshops: Readings and Benn’s Book Store in Bentleigh.
    Now I’m going to hide my credit card from myself.

  7. October 3, 2020 16:29

    Well… you can’t force diversity on a chain, can you! I’ve had many chains that were like that! I’m going to have to check out some of these books (but not the one by your one male author. I do NOT like talking animals in books)!

    • October 3, 2020 16:42

      Completely understand Davida. It was a reading group book as I recollect and it was in fact really interesting, but I would have felt the same as you if it were presented to me cold.

  8. October 3, 2020 16:53

    This is a great varied chain. I’ll give a plug to our very wonderful independent bookshop, The Little Ripon Bookshop in Ripon, Yorkshire, UK, but I wonder how many of your readers have access to it? (Mail order is available 😉 )

    • October 3, 2020 17:02

      Oh good on you Margaret – you never know where readers of this post live, or might travel to. Many readers love to visit good bookshops when they travel, so comments here might add to their lists.

      I’ve actually been to Ripon – albeit back in 1980. All I remember though is Ripon Cathedral. Yorkishire is a beautiful place.

      • October 3, 2020 18:40

        I like it, and yes, though it’s not one of the great cathedrals, Ripon’s is an interesting one.

  9. Sue permalink
    October 3, 2020 18:06

    Loved Turn of the Screw and there was an old movie of it years ago that I enjoyed. Can’t think what I’d link it to unfortunately – something spooky!
    Bookface at Port Macquarie is a great bookstore!

    • October 3, 2020 19:04

      Ah, you are among the spooky-horror-eerie link group, Sue. There’s also the governess linking group.

      Bookface! I know that place. We’ve been going to Port Macquarie annually for ten years or so and I’ve visited that shop. I agree that it’s great.

      • Sue permalink
        October 4, 2020 13:22

        It’s nice that you know it too Sue! It’s a nice little cafe area outside too – somewhere I liked to read my new book over a coffee!

        • October 4, 2020 13:58

          Yes, it’s near that back entrance to that little mall as I recollect?

  10. October 3, 2020 18:35

    Lovely chain – I particularly like you Marilyn Monroe link. It always brings me up short when I read an Australian blogger’s post mentioning the seasons. We in the UK are having a very different kind of day today. Enjoy your spring!

    • October 3, 2020 19:15

      Thanks … yes, whenever I mention the seasons I try to say “down under” to make it clear that I know our season is different.

      I’m glad you liked the Marilyn Monroe link.

  11. October 3, 2020 18:45

    I’ve read The Turn of the Screw and my chain went off on a ghostly trail.

    My favourite independent bookshop is Main Street Trading in St Boswell’s, Scotland, but not very far away from me. It’s won several prizes including Independent Bookshop of the Year. It’s a special place!

    • October 3, 2020 19:10

      I’ll come see yours Margaret. I think a few went the ghost-horror-eerie trail but so many differences within that all the same!

  12. Neil@kallaroo permalink
    October 3, 2020 18:47

    “Screw” reminds me of the propeller of a boat. So why not a submarine, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. Another epic voyage is The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas, by Thor Heyerdahl. Another rafting story is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. And you can’t have this story without linking to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by the same author. An important part of this story is painting the picket fence. Another story where painting is important is The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo, by Irving Stone. Painting the roof of the Sistine Chapel is a little more erudite than white-washing Aunt Polly’s fence! There’s a lot of Vatican politics in Stone’s story. Another story with Vatican politics is The Devil’s Advocate, by Morris West. That’s my six, but my original chain had one more (I had to add in Huckleberry Finn because I thought Tom Sawyer had the raft trip), so I’ve come to some religious strife in Australia, with The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough. All oldies. Alas, you know you are getting decrepit when you can remember a book title and author from fifty years ago, but not what you read last week.

    • October 3, 2020 19:06

      You sure do Neil! I suffer a bit from it myself.

      Anyhow, thanks for your links. I love the inspired opening one – screw to propeller! Good one.

  13. October 3, 2020 20:40

    And here I was thinking you’d have read the starter for sure! 😀

    Love your first few links, especially how you included the Wood and the dogs. I think about Finn the dog so often – such a wonderful character.

    • October 4, 2020 08:34

      I know, Kate … you would have thought wouldn’t you? I felt embarrassed ‘fessing up, but the truth is important! Interestingly I’ve read several of his chunksters but none of his more novella sized ones.

      Glad you liked the chain. I liked Finn too.

  14. October 3, 2020 23:48

    I was just thinking of starting The Weekend. I’ve heard great thinga. Good chain!

  15. October 4, 2020 00:02

    Bookshops are the best, love how you featured them in this chain.

  16. October 4, 2020 06:03

    I’m so sad that the independent bookstore here in Tatamagouche NS closed over 10 years ago. I don’t think there’s another that is any closer than Halifax – and I never go there. I think that’s why I use my public library so much. When they were closed in the spring, I was bereft!

    • October 4, 2020 08:44

      That’s really sad Debbie. A good library though is really essential. Were they closed for COVID? I hardly use mine because I have such a backlog of books to read, and I hate its location. I used to live in them as a child though.

  17. October 4, 2020 10:14

    I enjoyed this chain. Thanks for an entertaining read over my cuppa! 😊

  18. October 4, 2020 10:34

    Oh my, The Group!! Love that book! I hope I can find The Weekend! Any comparison with the Big Chill is always welcome with me! Good work!

  19. October 4, 2020 11:09

    I love the way you’ve organized this chain! It goes so smoothly, and starting off by year of publication is an interesting way of doing it. Mine is here: 🙂

  20. rosemarykaye permalink
    October 4, 2020 20:03

    What a lot of interesting books – and brilliant links. I love the bookshop connection, wish I’d thought of that! The Weekend, The Group and Girls Together all appeal to me (& I’d never heard of any of them before.). My own chain is here:

    I went off on a very different track and ended up on St Kilda (via Manhattan.)

    I’m in Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland, where bookshops are thin on the ground, but I’d like to mention two. Books & Beans ( in Belmont Street, Aberdeen (city of) is a great little secondhand bookshop and cafe. And in Edinburgh the small bookshop at the Fruitmarket Gallery ( – currently closed for refurbishment) always has such unusual titles (lots of art books but also novels, other non-fiction, children’s books.)

    • October 4, 2020 21:35

      Oh hello, Rosemary Kaye. Nice to meet you. Glad you enjoyed my chain. I’ll come a visit yours. And thanks for giving your two loved shops a shout out.

  21. October 4, 2020 23:11

    Some nifty footwork there, well done on including National Bookshop Day (which also seems to be national in the UK too) in such a creative way. And I am very envious of your spring, as here we seem to have descended into deluvial landscapes…

    • October 5, 2020 08:23

      Thanks Marina Sofia. I enjoyed doing that. I didn’t know you had the same day.

      I’m sorry you’re heading into diluvial landscapes! Sometimes, though, we Aussies could do with a little of that!

  22. October 5, 2020 00:09

    I’ve read a lot of Ann Patchett and also The Group. In fact, I was a bridesmaid at Vassar once for a high school friend who went there (marriage did not last) and my niece is a senior there now, socially distancing and most of her classes are online. Alas, my favorite independent was sold, completely lost all resemblance to its previous amazing self, and closed permanently last month, killed by the pandemic. Having worked in publishing for many years, this is very sad for me to see.

    Here is my chain:

    • October 5, 2020 08:27

      Thanks Con, and welcome! I should read more Ann Patchett. Have only read Bel canto, besides this little treatise.

      I’m really sorry about your independent book store. So sad when they go. I’ll come visit your chain.

  23. October 5, 2020 03:11

    I never knew Marilyn was a reader. So much for the bimbo image she was landed with and which has endured.

  24. Mareli Thalwitzer permalink
    October 6, 2020 00:33

    Great chain and I do love your ending point. Love how this meme can lead in sooooo many different directions. Independent Book Shops is not all that big in South Africa. I hope I can add a ‘yet’ one day soon!

    I’ve also read The turn of the screw and loved the creepiness. So I just went with the ghosts!

    Here’s my . 6 Degrees of Separation – The Ghost Edition

    • October 6, 2020 00:59

      Thanks Mareli. I didn’t know that about South Africa.

      I’ll come visit your chain.

  25. October 6, 2020 06:46

    You haven’t read Turn of the Screw? Oh it is deliciously creepy. I have read it several times and a local theater company did as a play a few years ago which made it even creepier to my mind. I think I would have jumped to The Haunting of Hill House because in both the narrators see things that may or may not be there. Then I would have run to an unreliable narrator like The Life of Pi or maybe Lolita and who knows after that 🙂 But I did enjoy the creative way you got to the Bingo Palace 🙂

    • October 6, 2020 12:55

      I know I should Stefanie. Oh unreliable narrators is a good way to go. I saw someone else do that, but I think directly from the James.

      Love Life of Pi.

  26. October 11, 2020 20:51

    I listened to Turn of the Screw just for this month’s Six Degrees. I don’t normally worry too much about that but it was a short book, and the narrators on the audiobook worked for me.

    Enjoyed your chain.

  27. October 14, 2020 11:23

    I’m in the U.S., and I always appreciate seeing the book choices by people from other countries. Thanks!

    • October 14, 2020 18:38

      Thanks Mary. I do like it when non-Australian readers like hearing about books new to them!

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