Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman is in Trouble to The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

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 Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, a book I haven’t read and hadn’t even heard of until now. It’s a novel “about marriage, divorce and modern relationships” and doesn’t really sound very appealing to me.

My first link is to another book about the breakdown of a marriage, Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple (1), in which the arrival of a young Frenchwoman causes trouble for Ellen North and her husband Avery. The edition I read was the Persephone Classic pictured above.

The first book published by Persephone that I ever read was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (2) and although I’ve read others since that I thought were much better, I did find that one a lovely, magical story. I would love to have a day like the one Miss Pettigrew has in that book!

South Riding (3) was also written by an author with the name Winifred – Winifred Holtby. South Riding is set in a fictional Yorkshire community in the 1930s and I remember being completely absorbed in the lives of the characters who live there.

Winifred Holtby was a close friend of Vera Brittain, whom she met at university. Testament of Youth (4) is the first part of Vera Brittain’s memoir, covering the years 1900-1925 and describing her experiences as a VAD nurse during the First World War. I highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t already, but prepare to have your heart broken.

The word ‘testament’ leads me to The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson (5), an unusual, imaginative novel about a man who claims to have met the Devil. I enjoyed it, but the book which inspired it is much better…

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (6) also tells the story of a man who meets a mysterious stranger who may or may not be the Devil. I loved this weird and wonderful novel, which was first published in 1824.


And that’s my chain for February. The links included marriage and divorce, books published by Persephone, authors with the name Winifred, a friendship between two authors, the word ‘testament’ and a meeting with the Devil. Next month, we are beginning with Lucy Treloar’s Wolfe Island – another book I haven’t read.

12 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman is in Trouble to The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

  1. Margaret says:

    Fleishman doesn’t appeal to me either. Great chain! I’ve read three of these (3,4 & 5) and enjoyed them, especially 3 and 4. I thought the first part of the Gideon Mack book was much better than the second and didn’t know it had been inspired by Hogg’s book.I’ll have to read that one now.
    And I hadn’t heard of Lucy Treloar or her book Wolfe Island before.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, South Riding and Testament of Youth are both great books. I loved the James Hogg book – I think if you read it you’ll see the similarities with Gideon Mack.

  2. cirtnecce says:

    A lovely chain as always Helen! Fleishman is in Trouble is something even I will not be overly enthusiastic about but I look forward to your thoughts! Surprises come in many form and you never know! I have been meaning to read South Riding for the longest time and hope to get to it this year! I love Testament of Youth and really feel should be mandatory reading in this day and age!

    • Helen says:

      I think you would enjoy South Riding, Cirtnecce. I hope you have a chance to read it this year. And yes, Testament of Youth is more relevant than ever!

  3. Yvonne says:

    I enjoyed your chain! Fleishman is in Trouble didn’t appeal to me either. I’ve been putting off reading Testament of Youth fearing it would be far too emotional. Maybe one day. South Riding is another I’ve been meaning to read.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, Testament of Youth is heartbreaking at times, but I’m glad I read it. It’s unforgettable. South Riding is a great book too and one I would like to re-read one day.

  4. FictionFan says:

    Great links and I love that you ended up with Justified Sinner – such a good book! I hadn’t realised The Testament of Gideon Mack was inspired by it. Must read it some time…

Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.