Six Degrees of Separation – from picnicking to murdering

It’s time for #6degrees! Adapting the idea the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by just six links, Kate W (one of my favourite bloggers) hosts a #6degrees meme for bookish types.

Every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and then it’s up to us readers to link it to six other books to form a kind of chain. It’s all a bit random, as the links between books can be as estoteric as you like – it’s fun to see where things take you.

At the starting block this month is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. In the first year of high school, my best friend was obsessed with this book. She would become emotionally unstable, in a way that only a thirteen year old can, if anyone hinted the book wasn’t based on real events.

Fingersmith: Book and movie combo deal!

It was only by accident that I came to hear Sarah Waters discussing her newest book The Night Watch at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2006.  It was a beautiful Scottish summer’s day; perfect for a day trip from Glasgow. I had planned to just wander around the festival at Charlotte Square Gardens; tickets were £8 per session and I knew my meager Oxfam salary couldn’t support too many purchases.  But then on a whim, I decided to get a ticket to Sarah Waters, an author I’d never heard of.  It changed my literary landscape.

‘Show us yer dragon!’: an unfulfilled quest into fantasy/ sci fi

When postmodern heroines like Laurie Penny and Sarah Waters refer to fantasy and science fiction as genres that profoundly influenced them, I feel abashed. I have never really given either a proper go.  I confess – I haven’t read The Hobbit, any Harry Potters or even the dust cover of a Terry Pratchett novel. I had a brief flutter with Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Quest, but it was postpartum and no one can be held responsible for their actions within 3 months of delivering a child.

So as part of my own voyage to becoming-a-better-person,  I bought a penguin edition of Obernewtyn, a fantasty/ science-fiction postapocalyptic novel by Isobelle Carmody.  You’re in safe hands with a penguin, surely.

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

I’m certainly not the first to acknowledge this, but Sarah Waters is a genius.  Her writing style is beautiful and her every book is compelling.  It’s a unique skill to combine classic prose with such a strong storyline.  The Little Stranger is a can’t-put-it-down-page-turner, but unlike many other page-turners, you aren’t left feeling cheated and slightly dirty afterwards because Waters’ writing is as satisfying as the tale.

The Little Stranger weaves an observation on social class into a modern-era gothic novel. It is set in rural post-war England where across the country aristocratic families’ fortunes are in decline.