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’re starting with No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood. Here’s what it’s about:
As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats–from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness–begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal’s void. An avalanche of images, details, and references accumulate to form a landscape that is post-sense, post-irony, post-everything. “Are we in hell?” the people of the portal ask themselves. “Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die?”
I haven’t read No One is Talking About This and probably never will, but as soon as I saw the title I knew that my first link this month was going to be to a book about someone who doesn’t talk: The Silent Boy by Andrew Taylor (1). This historical mystery set during the French Revolution features a boy who witnesses a murder and, having been told by the culprit never to say a word, takes this warning literally and refuses to speak to anyone at all.
Gervase Frant, the hero of Georgette Heyer’s The Quiet Gentleman (2), is not a silent man but he is a quiet one (and his cousin Theo is even quieter). This is not really a typical Heyer novel – it’s classed as one of her Regency romances, but it has a strong mystery element and the romance is quite a subtle one. It’s also one that I particularly enjoyed – although I wished we had seen more of the heroine!
Another book with ‘quiet’ in the title is Death on a Quiet Day by Michael Innes (3). This book from 1956 is one of Innes’ series of Inspector Appleby novels. I’ve found the books in this series quite varied; Death on a Quiet Day is more thriller than mystery, with the protagonist being chased through the Dartmoor countryside after discovering a dead body.
The opposite of quiet is loud, so the next book in my chain is Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (4). This very moving novel tells the story of a young girl in the 1950s who has difficulty communicating verbally and her experiences after being sent to live at the Briar Mental Institute. Although I found this an uncomfortable book to read at times due to the subject, there were still some moments of warmth and humour and it’s a book that I’m very glad I decided to read.
‘Saying it loud’ can cause echoes, so the next book in my chain is Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin (5). This is the first in a series of crime novels set on the Swedish island of Öland; there are four books (although I’ve only read three of them) and each one takes place during a different season of the year. I loved the atmosphere and the elderly Gerlof, one of the recurring characters, and I should really find time to read the last of the four books.
Another book which is the first in a crime series (and has a sound-related title) is A Moment of Silence by Anna Dean (6), an entertaining murder mystery set in an English country house in the early 19th century. I loved the heroine, Miss Dido Kent, and had fully intended to continue with the series but never did.
And that’s my chain for February! My links have included silent boys and quiet gentlemen, quiet days, loud voices, echoes and crime novels. In March we’ll be starting with the modern classic, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene.