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 Sanditon by Jane Austen. I haven’t read it – I do like Austen but am not as big a fan as many people are and haven’t yet ventured past her main six novels. However, I do know that Sanditon was unfinished at the time of her death.
Thinking about other unfinished novels, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens immediately came to mind, but I used that one in another Six Degrees post quite recently, along with another, Elizabeth Gaskell’s unfinished Wives and Daughters. This made me think a bit harder and then I remembered Lord Byron’s Fragment of a Novel (1), his attempt at writing a vampire story which he never completed. I’m particularly pleased with this link because apparently Sanditon was also first published under the title Fragment of a Novel.
The stories of Byron and his fellow Romantic Poets, Keats and Shelley, are told in Passion by Jude Morgan (2). I love Morgan’s writing and I thought this was an excellent book, focusing on the roles women such as Mary Shelley, Caroline Lamb and Augusta Leigh played in the poets’ lives.
Another book about poets is Possession by AS Byatt (3), although the poets in this one – Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte – are fictional. The novel follows two modern day academics as they study the lives of Ash and LaMotte, delving into letters, poems, fairy tales and journal entries, which Byatt presents as if they were authentic Victorian documents.
My copy of Possession has butterflies on the cover. So does The Specimen by Martha Lea (4), a book which had many of the elements I usually enjoy in a book – a mystery to be solved, a Victorian setting, strong female characters – yet it turned out to be disappointing. You can’t love every book you read, I suppose.
The main character in The Specimen is a young woman called Gwen who travels to Brazil to study and draw plants and insects. Another book about a woman trying to break into the male-dominated field of natural sciences is Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull (5), set in Portugal and the Berlengas islands in the middle of the 18th century. I did love that book!
For my final link, I’m taking the word ‘song’ in the title. I had a few books to choose from here, but decided on The Song of Achilles (6), Madeline Miller’s beautiful retelling of the Iliad, told from the perspective of Patroclus, who is portrayed in the novel as Achilles’ lover.
Well, that’s my chain for this month. My links included unfinished novels, poets, butterflies and songs. In January, we’ll be starting with Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid which, coincidentally, I just started to read yesterday.