Six Degrees of Separation: From Mara Wilson to Edgar Allan Poe

It’s the first weekend of a new 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.

This month we begin with Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. When I first saw that this was the starting point for the chain, I struggled to think of who Mara Wilson was, but I discovered she was the child actress in Mrs Doubtfire and Matilda.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a great children’s book, but that’s not the book I’m going to choose for my first link. Instead I’m going to link to a non-fiction book about not just one Matilda, but four – Matilda of Flanders, Matilda of Scotland, Matilda of Boulogne and the Empress Matilda (sometimes known as Maud). The lives of these four medieval queens are explored in Alison Weir’s Queens of the Conquest.

One of the anecdotes I remember reading about Empress Matilda involves her escape from Oxford Castle during a siege wearing a white cape as camouflage against the snow. Thinking of women dressed in white leads me, quite obviously, to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

The Woman in White is one of my favourite Victorian novels and the intelligent, resourceful Marian Halcombe is one of my favourite heroines. Another Victorian novel with a strong and memorable, though very different, female protagonist is Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.

It’s been a long time since I last read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but it’s a book I loved when I was younger and read over and over again. I was sure I could remember a chapter with ‘Vanity Fair’ in the title, so I checked my old copy and yes – Chapter 9: Meg Goes To Vanity Fair. It’s amazing the things you remember!

Louisa May Alcott is one of several historical figures to appear as a character in Mrs Poe by Lynn Cullen, a novel telling the story of the poet Frances Sargent Osgood. Frances is known to have exchanged a series of romantic poems with Edgar Allan Poe and this book explores their relationship.

And that brings me to my final link: The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. I chose a selection of stories from the book to re-read last Halloween and I’m thinking about doing the same this year.

That’s my chain for this month! Have you read any of these books?

Next month we will be starting with The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.

23 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Mara Wilson to Edgar Allan Poe

  1. Lark says:

    Fun chain! I’ve read three books on it: The Woman in White (one of my favs!), Little Women, and Vanity Fair. And I really want to read Queens of the Conquest; it sounds really interesting. Great post. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      The Woman in White is great – I’m glad you love it too! I thought Queens of the Conquest was fascinating, especially as I knew almost nothing about most of the queens who were featured in it.

  2. Margaret says:

    I love your chain – and especially like the first link. I haven’t read Queens of the Conquest but it sounds great. I’ve read the other books, except for Mrs Poe. And although I’ve read some of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories and poems, I haven’t read all of them. I’ll look out for your review.

    I see Vanity Fair started last night on TV – I didn’t watch it. I’m never sure I want to watch TV adaptations when I’ve enjoyed a book – but I’m tempted. Did you see it?

    • Helen says:

      I didn’t watch it either, but might try it at a later date. I’ve been disappointed by adaptations too often! Queens of the Conquest is a fascinating book and I was able to learn a lot from it – I would definitely recommend it.

  3. cath says:

    Nice chain. Some I knew, but not the Lynn Cullen one, which sounds interesting.
    Vanity Fair is one of my all-time favourite novels, both historical and bang-up-to-date – presumably why it’s been adapted for TV again.

    • Helen says:

      Thanks, Cath. The Lynn Cullen book was interesting, though not quite what I had expected. I wouldn’t describe Vanity Fair as a favourite, but I did enjoy it when I read it a few years ago.

  4. Elle says:

    Vanity Fair, my absolute favourite novel! Little Women never quite hit the spot for me as a kid; not clear why, although I did enjoy it…just didn’t fall in love with it. (I also remember Mara Wilson in Matilda; she’s really excellent!)

    • Helen says:

      I read Vanity Fair a few years ago and it didn’t become a favourite for me, but I did really enjoy it. I haven’t read Little Women for a long time – I loved it as a child, but I’m not sure if I would still feel the same as an adult!

  5. Karen K. says:

    Wow, great chain! I would never have connected Mara Wilson to Vanity Fair — so fun. Thanks for reminding that the new Vanity Fair adaptation started this week, I still have time to catch it on TV. I’m going to skip the Six Degrees this month as I only know Mara Wilson from Matilda, but I’m intrigued by starting with The Outsiders, probably the best teen novel ever.

    • Helen says:

      Thanks! I never know where the chain is going to take me when I first begin to put it together. I actually found it quite easy to get started this month, once I realised that Mara Wilson was the girl in Matilda!

    • Helen says:

      I can’t wait to dip into my Poe collection again. I never feel like reading him at other times of the year – he’s definitely an October sort of author!

  6. Judy Krueger says:

    Especially great chain this month Helen. It has been a long time since I read Little Women but I must have read it at least six times growing up. I used to be able to recite the first page from memory!

    • Helen says:

      “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug…
      That’s as far as I can get these days, but I probably read it six times or more when I was growing up too!

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