Six Degrees of Separation: From Trust to Fire

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 Trust by Hernan Diaz. Here’s what it’s about:

Trust by Hernan Diaz is a sweeping, unpredicatable novel about power, wealth and truth, told by four unique, interlocking voices and set against the backdrop of turbulent 1920s New York. Perfect for fans of Succession.

Can one person change the course of history?

A Wall Street tycoon takes a young woman as his wife. Together they rise to the top in an age of excess and speculation. But now a novelist is threatening to reveal the secrets behind their marriage, and this wealthy man’s story – of greed, love and betrayal – is about to slip from his grasp.

Composed of four competing versions of this deliciously deceptive tale, Trust brings us on a quest for truth while confronting the lies that often live buried in the human heart.

I haven’t read Trust and couldn’t find anything in the blurb to inspire my first link. I do know that it was longlisted for last year’s Booker Prize and I have read two of the other books on that list: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler, and the one I’m going to link to here, which is Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (1). I read this beautifully written little book which touches on the scandal of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries for last year’s Novellas in November.

My next book also has the word ‘small’ in the title. A Small Circus by Hans Fallada (2) was originally published in 1931 but I read it in a new edition translated from German to English by Michael Hofmann. It explores political tensions and corruption in a small town in Germany. I had previously read Fallada’s wonderful Alone in Berlin which I absolutely loved, so I was disappointed to find that I didn’t like this one much at all.

Another Fallada novel I did love is Little Man, What Now? (3). It tells the story of a young newly-married couple struggling to survive in the harsh economic climate of 1930s Germany. I found the two protagonists completely endearing and their story both funny and moving. This book is also now available in a Michael Hofmann translation, but I was very happy with the edition I read, with an earlier translation by Susan Bennett.

I think I have used novels with questions in the title in a previous Six Degrees post, but I’m going to do it again and link to Who Killed Dick Whittington? by E and MA Radford (4). Published by Dean Street Press, this is one of a series of detective novels written by a husband and wife team. This book, first published in 1947, involves a murder during a production of Dick Whittington where suspicion falls on the actor playing the Cat. A good choice if you like mysteries with theatrical settings.

Another book with a ‘cat’ that isn’t a real cat is The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor (5). This is the first in a series of excellent historical mysteries set during and just after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The main characters are James Marwood and Cat (Catherine) Lovett. They are great books and I have just finished reading the newest one, The Shadows of London, which is published in the UK in March.

Fire by CC Humphreys (6) is also about the Great Fire of London. I was afraid at first that it might be too similar to the Andrew Taylor book, but I found the two to be quite different. This novel is the second in a series of entertaining historical thrillers following the adventures of reformed highwayman Captain Coke and ‘thief-taker’ Pitman. I also enjoyed the first book, Plague.


And that’s my chain for February! My links included: The Booker Prize longlist, the word ‘small’, Hans Fallada books, questions in titles, cats that aren’t real cats and the Great Fire of London. Have I brought the chain full circle? Well, both my first and last books have one-word titles, so I’m happy with that!

In March, we’ll be starting with Passages by Gail Sheehy, a self-help title from the 1970s.

19 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Trust to Fire

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Love that you mention not one but three Hans Fallada titles in this chain (one in passing, but still…). I haven’t read Trust either and am not sure I can think of a first step from there.

    • Helen says:

      It can be difficult to find that first link when you haven’t read the starting book. I was going to use books set in New York, but remembered I’d already used that as a link just a few months ago. And yes, I love Fallada (apart from A Small Circus) so was pleased to get three of his books into one chain!

  2. margaret21 says:

    I’ve not read any Fallada apart from Alone in Berlin, so I’ll look out for Little Man What Now? I remember being a bit underwhelmed by the Andrew Taylor – as far as I remember I found the characterisations thin – though I liked the evocation of burnt-out London. As ever, and interesting chain.

    • Helen says:

      Little Man, What Now? is a great book, though completely different from Alone in Berlin! I also found the characterisations a bit weak in Ashes of London, but I think they’ve improved a lot as the series has progressed. My favourite Andrew Taylor books are actually his earlier standalones, The American Boy and The Anatomy of Ghosts.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, it’s interesting to see how differently two authors can approach the same subject. I preferred the Andrew Taylor but the other book was nearly as enjoyable in its own way!

  3. mallikabooks15 says:

    Enjoyed your chain. I hope I can finally get to Alone in Berlin this year because I’ve been meaning to for a while now. What fun to have two ‘cat’ links. The actor playing the cat being suspected reminded me of the Findouters and the Pantomime Cat.

    • Helen says:

      I really loved Alone in Berlin – it was one of my books of the year a few years ago, so I hope you enjoy it too, whenever you read it. I’m glad you liked the cat links!

    • Helen says:

      I’m glad it’s not just me who was disappointed by A Small Circus. I’ve enjoyed everything else I’ve read by Fallada, but didn’t like that one at all!

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