It is now autumn here Down Under, and, like our summer, it’s a strange one – cooler and wetter than “normal”. Oops, we need to get used to the fact that in this world of change, there is no “normal” anymore, “new” or otherwise. Anyhow, ’nuff said. Let’s get onto our Six Degrees of Separation meme. If you don’t know how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book – and after a two-book run, we are back to normal (did I say that!) by which I mean to a starting book I haven’t read, Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain. It won several awards, including the 2020 Booker Prize. I’d like to read it.
Now, I considered many links for this – subject, titled for main character, Scottish setting, but in the end I’ve gone with the obvious, another Booker Prize winner. I used to read them all, but since blogging I’ve only read a handful, but I did have a choice, and the one I’ve chosen doesn’t really have any other obvious links with Shuggie Bain besides both being winners, but I’m sticking with it, New Zealander Eleanor Catton’s The luminaries (my review).
It’s an historical novel set on the goldfields of New Zealand’s West Coast, and is grand and ambitious in its conception. Somewhat less grand, but nonetheless, also an historical novel set in a mining community is South African writer Karen Jennings’ Upturned earth (my review). Inspired by a real character, it’s primarily about corrupt powerful men destroying the lives of the powerless men in their employ, and the challenge of standing up to them.
Another novel about corrupt men – in this case police and justice officials – destroying the lives of powerless others is the crime novel I read in March for Kim’s (Reading Matters) Southern Cross Crime Month, Garry Disher’s Bitter Wash Road (my review). It is set in a tiny, poor community in rural South Australia and is about a demoted police officer’s struggles to solve a crime in a situation where he doesn’t know which colleagues he can trust.
My next book is also titled for the name of a road, but it is set in one of the world’s busiest capital cities, Helene Hanff’s delightful book, 84 Charing Cross Road (my review). Now a classic, you probably know it, but if not, it comprises the charming letters between American writer and bibliophile Helene Hanff and bookseller Frank Doel of Marks & Co, a London bookshop which specialised in secondhand and antiquarian books.
For my next link, we are staying in England, and sticking with letters, this time with a classic epistolary novel, Maria Edgeworth’s Leonora (my review). Published in 1806, it lacks the subtlety of Austen’s novels, the first of which was published in 1811, but it’s interesting for Edgeworth’s exploration of English and French “sensibilities” during Napoleonic times.
And so, I’m going to stay with this time period and conclude with Caroline Moorhead’s Dancing to the precipice (my review) which is a biography of French aristocrat Henriette-Lucy, Marquise de La Tour-du-Pin-Gouvernet, from her birth in 1770 to her death in 1853. It’s a wild ride, but a fascinating story about survival in tricky political times.
So, again we’ve roamed around a bit, from Scotland to New Zealand to South Africa, over to Australia before returned to Europe where we stayed for the last three books. We time travelled a bit covering many time periods between the late 1700s to contemporary times. Five of my links were written by women.
Now, the usual: Have you read Shuggie Bain? And, regardless, what would you link to?