It’s the first Saturday of the month which means it’s time for another Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate of Books are my Favourite and Best. The idea is that Kate chooses a book to use as a starting point and then we have to link it to six other books of our choice to form a chain. A book doesn’t have to be connected to all of the others on the list – only to the one next to it in the chain.
The starting point this month is Atonement by Ian McEwan. As usual, I haven’t read it – but I do at least own a copy, which is a step in the right direction. Even without having read it, I know that it is often described as ‘metafiction’, which Wikipedia defines as ‘a form of literature that emphasizes its own constructedness in a way that continually reminds the reader to be aware that they are reading or viewing a fictional work’.
Taking metafiction novels as the first link in my chain this month, I could think of plenty of other examples, but the one I have chosen is The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman is set in Lyme Regis, which is where Louisa Musgrove in Jane Austen’s Persuasion falls and injures herself on the harbour steps. I struggled to think of where to take the chain next from Persuasion, though, so I decided to pick another book with a Lyme Regis setting instead – and that book is Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
Remarkable Creatures is a fictional account of the lives and careers of two real-life 19th century fossil-collectors, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Another 19th century woman, fictional this time, who is trying to make her way in the male-dominated world of natural sciences, is Cora Seaborne, the amateur naturalist in Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. Mary Anning is one of Cora’s heroines, forming a strong link between these two books!
Moving on from The Essex Serpent, I have selected another novel with the word ‘serpent’ in the title. The Serpent Sword by Matthew Harffy is also historical fiction, but it’s a very different type of story, following the adventures of young warrior Beobrand, who sets out to avenge his brother’s death in 7th century Northumbria.
Northumbria was the name of the medieval kingdom which once encompassed a large part of northern England and the south-east of Scotland, and included the area now known as Northumberland. My next choice is a crime novel set in contemporary Northumberland: Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton.
Dead Woman Walking opens with a group of people enjoying an early morning flight in a hot air balloon over the Northumberland National Park. And that leads me to my final link in the chain – Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, in which a very creepy character known as the Dust Witch flies above the rooftops of Green Town in a balloon.
And that’s my chain for August! Have you read any of these books?
Next month we will be starting with Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson.