Six Degrees of Separation: From The Road to Queens of the Conquest

It’s the first weekend 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, the book we are starting with is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book I haven’t read but have heard a lot about. Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

A father and his son walk alone through burned America, heading through the ravaged landscape to the coast. This is the profoundly moving story of their journey. The Road boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which two people, ‘each the other’s world entire’, are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

I don’t really want to think too much about post-apocalyptic worlds at the moment, so I will quickly move my chain in a different direction, linking through the words ‘The Road’. This leads me to The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone (1), a novel about a young woman who arrives at a hotel in Wanting, a town on the Chinese-Burmese border, and during her time at the hotel reflects on the dramatic series of events that have brought her to Wanting.

Hotels provide the link to my next book: The Haunted Hotel and Other Stories by Wilkie Collins (2). Apart from the title novella, which is set in a Venice hotel, the book also contains several other ghostly or supernatural stories, my favourites being A Terribly Strange Bed and Miss Jeromette and the Clergyman.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a big fan of short stories, but there are some authors, such as Wilkie Collins, whose work I love reading in any format. Daphne du Maurier is another. I have read and enjoyed all of her short story collections, most recently The Doll (3), a collection of stories written very early in her career.

I still have some of Daphne du Maurier’s non-fiction to read, but I have now read all of her fiction apart from Castle Dor (4), a novel begun by Arthur Quiller-Couch and completed by du Maurier. I’m hoping to read it for Ali’s upcoming Daphne du Maurier Reading Week.

Another book I’ve read that was started by one author and finished by another is Winter Siege by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman (5). Samantha Norman is the daughter of Diana Norman (Ariana Franklin’s real name) and she completed the novel after her mother’s death. Winter Siege is set in England in 1141 during the conflict between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda.

The life of Empress Matilda – also known as Empress Maud – is covered in Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir (6), a biography of five medieval queens. The other four discussed in the book are Matilda of Flanders (wife of William the Conqueror), Matilda of Scotland and Adeliza of Louvain (the two wives of Henry I) and Matilda of Boulogne (wife of King Stephen).


And that’s my chain for this month. My links have included the words ‘The Road’, hotels, short stories by favourite authors, novels started by one writer and finished by another, and the Empress Matilda.

Next month we are starting with Normal People by Sally Rooney.

25 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From The Road to Queens of the Conquest

  1. margaretskea Author of prize winning historical novel Turn of the Tide says:

    The Road is a strange one – I know lots of folk rave about it, but I found the end deeply unsatisfying – it felt as if it just petered out. However, I would read and re-read anything by Daphne du Maurier and Wilkie Collins any time 🙂 interesting to follow the linkage through – amazing how far you can ‘travel’ in this way.

    • Helen says:

      The Road has never appealed to me at all and I doubt I’ll ever read it, despite all the hype. And yes, I never know where I’ll end up when I start to put one of these chains together!

  2. Yvonne says:

    A great mix in your chain! Du Maurier is a favourite. Winter Siege was the first book by Diana Norman I ever read. I’ve yet to read her mystery series, but I’m working my way through her standalones.

    • Helen says:

      The only Diana Norman books I’ve read are Winter Siege and the first two Ariana Franklin mysteries, but I must try some of the earlier standalones as I’ve heard they were better than her later work.

  3. Calmgrove says:

    Inventive stepping stones, Helen, always intriguing to see how the progression is made. I regret to say I temporarily stalled on Castle Dor, and won’t even use the excuse of a DDM Reading Week to pick it up again, but sometime, I’m sure, sometime…

    • Helen says:

      I never know where one of these chains will take me until I start putting it together! I’m not expecting too much from Castle Dor, but as I’ve read all of du Maurier’s other novels now I want to read that one for completion.

      • Calmgrove says:

        I think I stalled before du Maurier took over from Quiller-Couch, but I’m determined to come back to it—after all it’s an Arthurian tale brought up to date and I’m always intrigued to see how ‘modern’ retell them!

  4. FictionFan says:

    Haha, four Matildas out of five Queens is a bit confusing! They clearly weren’t giving much consideration to the armchair historians of the future. 😉 Must make a note of the Wilkie Collins collection for spooky season…

    • Helen says:

      It was very confusing, and I have to confess, even after reading the book I can’t remember which Matilda was which! And yes, I think the Wilkie Collins book would be perfect for Halloween.

  5. Alyson Woodhouse says:

    Great chain as always. I’ve not read a Wilkie Collins for a while, my experience with him so far has been a bit hit or miss, so some of his short stories might be a good place for me to go next.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve loved nearly everything I’ve read by Wilkie Collins, but if you’ve had mixed feelings so far then I think trying his short stories would probably be a good idea – less of a commitment than a full-length novel.

  6. Literary Feline says:

    I love Wilkie Collins. I haven’t yet tried anything by du Maurier, which I know I will kick myself for once I do read her work. I am sure I will love it. Thanks for sharing your chain with us!

    • Helen says:

      Wilkie Collins is one of my favourite authors, but I haven’t read any of his books for years. I’ll have to pick one up soon! I hope you enjoy du Maurier when you do get round to reading her. 🙂

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