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 Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, a book I read before Christmas and enjoyed, although I still need to post my review. It tells the story of a fictional 1970s rock band and is written in a documentary style, in the form of interviews with the band members. Books written in unusual or unconventional styles often don’t work for me, but this one did.
A book written in an unusual, unconventional style that didn’t really work for me was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (1), which is also about the music industry. Each chapter is different from the one before: a different narrator, a different time period, even a chapter presented as a series of Powerpoint slides – very imaginative, but I found it overwhelming and confusing.
I haven’t tried any other Jennifer Egan books yet, but eventually I will need to read Manhattan Beach for my Walter Scott Prize Project (I’m reading through the shortlists for that prize and Manhattan Beach appears on the 2018 shortlist). I have still only managed to read one book from the 2018 list and that was Sugar Money by Jane Harris (2), a novel set in the Caribbean in the year 1765.
Sugar is the name of the heroine in Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White (3). I loved that book, which follows the story of a prostitute’s rise through the ranks of society in Victorian London. Crimson is a shade of red and so is scarlet, which leads me to the next book in my chain…
The classic adventure novel The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (4) is set during the French Revolution. The mysterious and elusive Scarlet Pimpernel is rescuing aristocrats from the guillotine and smuggling them to safety, but who is he and will he ever be caught?
I recently read The Bastille Spy by CS Quinn (5), another French Revolution novel, and couldn’t help noticing the similarities with The Scarlet Pimpernel – something the author definitely intended, as the code name adopted by the spy in the novel is ‘Mouron’, which translates to pimpernel! I will be posting my review of that book soon.
Bringing this month’s chain to an end is another book with the word Spy in the title – the wonderful An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (6), a fictional account of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal that caused great controversy in 19th century France. A book I would highly recommend!
And that’s my chain for January. The links included unusual books about the music industry, sugar, shades of red, pimpernels and spies! In February, we will begin with Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, a book I know absolutely nothing about.
20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Daisy Jones & the Six to An Officer and a Spy”
Very imaginative links, Helen!
The book about the Dreyfus Affair that I read was A Man in Uniform by Canadian author Kate Taylor. It was excellent also. I agree that more people need to be familiar with that scandal. https://www.exurbanis.com/archives/10167#uniform
That book sounds great, Debbie. I would like to read more about the Dreyfus Affair, so I’ll have to think about reading that one.
I read Manhattan Beach when it first came out and was not impressed….liked Daisy Jones and the
Six much more.
Sorry to hear you weren’t impressed with Manhattan Beach. I had hoped I would like it better than A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Ah, two people who link first to the Goon Squad book. I really must read it – it sounds amazing. This is a wonderful chain, and right now, I’m reading a book where a certain copy of The Scarlett Pimpernel is a way for two people in the French underground during WWII communicate! Here’s my chain. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2020/01/04/6degrees-of-separation-for-january-4-2020/
I’m not surprised a few of us thought of the Goon Squad as our first link, as it’s such a similar kind of book (although I enjoyed Daisy Jones much more). I love the idea of people using The Scarlet Pimpernel to communicate during the war. 🙂
Such a great and varied selection Helen! I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel and must read The Officer and the Spy! I have been hearing very very good things about this book!
Thanks, Cirtnecce. I definitely think you should read An Officer and a Spy; I thought it was a wonderful book!
I liked your links, Helen. I’ve yet to read The Crimson Petal and the White. An Officer and A Spy appeals to me too. Interesting to see that there is a 2019 film (in French) directed by Roman Polanski based on Harris’ novel. Polanski’s reputation, however, may keep this film from a wider audience.
I think you might enjoy The Crimson Petal and the White – I would definitely recommend that one. An Officer and a Spy is great too. I hadn’t realised there was a film.
My introduction to Robert Harris was Fatherland because I’m also a fan of alternate history. I also enjoyed his newest book the Second Sleep, Munich and Pompeii…sorry to get a bit off topic.
Kathy – I have read The Second Sleep, but still haven’t read Fatherland, Munich or Pompeii. It’s good to know you enjoyed all of them.
Great chain, filled with enticing sounding books! I’ve read An Officer and a Spy and concur that it’s wonderful – it was the book that introduced me to Robert Harris who is now a firm favourite. I’d also like to read Sugar Money sometime, having love The Observations, but I have to read Gillespie and I first… too many books! 😀
An Officer and a Spy was my first introduction to Robert Harris too and possibly still my favourite of his books. Sugar Money is good, but I thought Gillespie and I was better – hope you enjoy it!
I haven’t read Goon Squad despite many other readers telling me that I’ll love it… I’m reluctant because I have read Manhattan Beach and really had to plough through it (hope that doesn’t put you off – from memory I thought it was about 100 pages too long).
Sugar Money sounds good (and one that would be useful in my Around the World reading challenge!).
I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews of Manhattan Beach which is why I’ve been putting off reading it…it sounds quite different from Goon Squad, though, so maybe you would enjoy that one more. Sugar Money was great!
Ooo! I love the direction you took this chain! I don’t see mention of The Crimson Petal and the White very often, but it is a book I enjoyed quite a bit when I read it. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks – I had fun putting this chain together! I’m glad you enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White too. 🙂
My chain finished with The Scarlet Pimpernel!
I love The Scarlet Pimpernel! I’ll come across and have a look at your chain. 🙂