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!