Six Degrees of Separation: From Fight Club to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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.

This month we are starting with Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve never read this book (or seen the film) and I’m not really interested in reading it, but I can see from Goodreads that it’s about an ‘enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basement of bars’.

For my first link, I’ve chosen another book about a fighter – Warwyck’s Wife by Rosalind Laker. The protagonist (I refuse to call him a hero) is a boxer in the 1820s and although I have little interest in boxing, I did find it fascinating to read about what the sport involved in its early days.

At the beginning of the book he buys a woman at auction who has been put up for sale by her husband, a custom which, unfortunately, really did take place in the 19th century. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy opens with a very similar scene in which Michael Henchard sells his wife at a country fair, an impulsive act which he quickly regrets.

Like most of Hardy’s novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge is set in his fictional Wessex, based on the real landscape of south and south-west England. Another Victorian author who set several of his books in an imaginary region is Anthony Trollope. His Chronicles of Barsetshire take place in and around the fictitious English county of Barsetshire and its cathedral town of Barchester. The first book in the series is The Warden.

The warden of the title is the Reverend Septimus Harding (one of my favourite Trollope characters). Another novel with a clergyman as the main character is The Mysteries of Glass by Sue Gee, which I remember as a beautifully written, though very slow-paced, novel. Looking back at my review, I said at the time that “Although I was reading this book in July, I could still picture the cold, wintry landscape.”

Today, I don’t need a book to show me a snowy landscape – I can see plenty of snow just by looking out of my window! Thinking of other novels that have a wintry setting and atmosphere, though, leads me to the next book in my chain: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, a magical story inspired by a Russian fairy tale.

Staying on the same theme, another book with the word ‘Snow’ in the title is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. This one is not a wintry read, though – it’s a novel set in 1820s China in which a girl communicates with her friend through messages written on a silk fan.

That’s my chain for this month! My links have included boxing, wife-selling, fictional lands, the church and snow.

In March we will be starting with The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper.

21 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Fight Club to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

  1. Liz says:

    A lovely chain, Helen. Looking out at our snowy city as I type, I remember how much I enjoyed The Snow Child and must re-read it some time. I love the sound of the books by Lisa See and Sue Gee. One of the great aspects of our 6 degrees posts is the opportunity to add fascinating reads to the TBR list! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      The Snow Child was a lovely book. I would like to re-read it one day too. And yes, I always find myself adding books to my TBR from other bloggers’ six degrees posts. 🙂

  2. Calmgrove says:

    I ‘read’ The Mayor of Casterbridge at school—though ‘moped my way through it’ is a better description—and consequently remember little about it except the wife-selling, which put me off. We also ‘read’ The Trumpet Major and that made even less of an impression. I really ought to give poor old Hardy another go, I don’t want to remain jaundiced about him all my life!

    • Helen says:

      I love Hardy but I don’t know why they insist on teaching him in schools. I think most teenagers would probably find him far too bleak and depressing. I’m glad I only started reading his books relatively recently!

      • Calmgrove says:

        In the boys grammar school of the 60s they clearly thought our powers of intellect were greater than they were, or that a diet of Hardy and Chaucer, Yeats and Gerald Manley Hopkins were suitable fare for pubescent lads…

  3. Carmen says:

    Overall, a very creative and clever linking, as usual. I have not read any of them, but thought of possible alternatives that I have read with the twist you formulated. Wife-selling? Goodness me! 😮 I thought that I could do this chain with movies. Movies would come easier to me than books for the sheer number of them I’ve watched. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I know, it’s horrible to think that wife-selling really used to happen! And yes, I’m sure these chains would work with movies instead of books.

  4. Margaret says:

    I didn’t like the sound of Fight Club and have no interest in reading it either. But I’ve loved some of the books in your chain – The Mayor of Casterbridge and The Warden. I thought I’d read The Mysteries of Glass, but when I checked it’s Sue Gee’s the Hours of the Night that I’d read, which is also very slow-paced.

  5. Lark says:

    That’s quite the bookish journey you mapped out! Who would have thought you could ever get from Fight Club to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. 😀

  6. Kay says:

    Lovely chain and such nice covers – well, maybe not Fight Club, but I think that one was a little difficult for most of us. Ha! I’ve read the Snow Flower book from your list and remember it very well. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I couldn’t find a nice cover for Fight Club, unsurprisingly! The thing I remember most about Snow Flower was the foot-binding scene near the beginning.

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