Six Degrees of Separation: From The Outsiders to Cat Among the Pigeons

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 first book this month is The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, As usual this is a book that I haven’t read and know almost nothing about. I have discovered that Hinton wrote the novel as a teenager and was only eighteen when it was published in 1967.

Another author who wrote her first novel as a teenager was Marjorie Bowen – sixteen at the time of writing The Viper of Milan, although the book didn’t find a publisher for a few more years because it was considered too violent for such a young woman to have written. Graham Greene described it as one of the books which influenced his own writing career, so I did try to use that fact as my next link, but found it too difficult as I have never actually read anything by Greene.

Instead, I am going to link to another book with ‘Viper’ in the title: Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre, a novel set at the court of Charles I. I haven’t read it yet, but hope to read it soon for my Walter Scott Prize Project (it was shortlisted for the prize in 2015). Reading the reviews, I’m not sure whether it will really be my sort of book, but I’m looking forward to trying it.

Seeing the name Hermione always reminds me of Harry Potter. That would be too obvious, though, so I tried to think of another book which features a character with that name and came up with Hermione Danglars, the wife of one of the villains in The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Unfortunately, on checking my copy of the book I discovered that Madame Danglars is actually Hermine, not Hermione – but I think that’s close enough and, anyway, The Count is one of my favourite books of all time, so I really want to include it in the chain!

My next link is another tenuous one, but because it’s October and Halloween is on its way I think it’s quite appropriate. In The Count of Monte Cristo, the main character, Edmond Dantès, is referred to several times as ‘Lord Ruthven’, because of the paleness of his skin. Lord Ruthven is the vampire in John Polidori’s 1819 story, The Vampyre, one of the earliest and most influential vampire stories in English literature.

Polidori was a friend of Lord Byron’s and The Vampyre was actually inspired by Byron’s own attempt at writing a vampire novel (which remained unfinished and has become known as Fragment of a Novel). I have read a few books in which Byron features as a character (Passion by Jude Morgan and Glorious Apollo by E Barrington come to mind) but the one I’m going to use in my chain is The White Devil by Justin Evans.

The White Devil is a ghost story set at the British public school, Harrow, where a new boy bearing a strange resemblance to Byron has just arrived. Another novel I enjoyed which is set in a school, but with no ghosts this time, is Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie. It’s a Poirot mystery, but Poirot only appears towards the end – it was the school setting which made this book so much fun to read.

And that’s my chain for October! Have you read any of these books?

Next month we will be starting with Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray – finally, a book that I’ve actually read!

24 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From The Outsiders to Cat Among the Pigeons

  1. Margaret says:

    I enjoyed this post – great links! I love the fact that apart from Cat Among the Pigeons I haven’t read any of the books in your links – even though this could add to my TBR lists! I see that The Count of Monte Cristo is one of your favourite books of all time as it’s one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years.Maybe I’ll get round to it soon.

    • Helen says:

      Thanks. I always find lots of books from other people’s chains to add to my TBR too. The Count of Monte Cristo is a wonderful book – don’t let the length put you off!

  2. Never Not Reading says:

    The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite books too! I wasn’t familiar with The Vampyre, which is odd because I love Dracula so much. Thanks for sharing it, I might have to check it out.

    • Helen says:

      I’m glad you love The Count too! The Vampyre is only a short story and doesn’t really compare with Dracula, but it’s interesting from the point of view of it being one of the first vampire stories.

  3. Carmen says:

    Clever chain, as usual, Helen. 🙂 I’m not sure if I ever read The Count of Monte Cristo or saw the countless adaptations based on the novel. 😉

  4. Jessie says:

    These were fun and interesting links to follow! I’m also really intrigued by Viper Wine, but am not sure what to expect. I look forward to hearing what you think about it.

  5. Charlie says:

    Interesting story about The Viper of Milan!

    I haven’t read any of them – I did try to read Monte Cristo but didn’t get very far, I think it was the wrong point in time for me.

  6. buriedinprint says:

    What fun: I love that you’ve done it with names (mostly) and that you allowed the nearly-Hermione to make the cut (she would have been disappointed to be left out by virtue of a single missing letter I’m sure)!

    • Helen says:

      I find that looking for shared names (titles, authors or characters) is often the easiest way to link one book to another. It was so annoying to find that Hermione was actually Hermine, but I had already built the rest of my chain so had to include her anyway!

  7. Yvonne says:

    Great chain! The only book I’ve read is The Count of Monte Cristo and except for the Agatha Christie novel, the rest are unknown to me. I like a good ghost story so will check out The White devil.

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