Sunday, March 4, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation - From The Beauty Myth to The Wine of Angels

The Six Degrees of Separation meme is hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavoriteandbest. The idea behind the meme is to start with a book and use common points between two books to end up with links to six other books, forming a chain. Every month she provides the title of a book as the starting point.

It is not a requirement that the books be ones I have read, but this month I have read all of the books in my chain.

The starting point this month is The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. I have not read the book, had never even heard of it, and I was surprised to find that it was first published in 1990. I doubt that things have changed that much since then.


Having grown up in the American South in the 1950s and 60s, I am well aware of pressure to be beautiful, to fit the mold, etc. And in my family, although my intelligence was praised, beauty in women was very important. It was a relief to get to California, and especially Santa Barbara, where things were much more relaxed. I stopped wearing make up, only putting it on when I went back to Alabama for the first few years. At least in my everyday life, I no longer felt that pressure.

But rather than continue on the Beauty theme I will move to another non-fiction book. The Monuments Men is about a kind of beauty, the beauty found in art. This book tells the true story of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program established in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war areas during and after World War II. Several hundred service members and civilians worked with various military forces to safeguard art works of historic and cultural importance from war damage. It is an amazing story.


My next link is to Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman, a novel that starts with the discovery of the Hungarian Gold Train, which contained valuables confiscated from Jewish citizens of Hungary during World War II. Where The Monuments Men focused on art treasures that were saved, this book focuses on the looting of everyday belongings (watches, jewelry, silverware, china), most of which were never returned to the owners or their families.

The next connection uses the time setting, another book related to World War II. The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott is a historical crime fiction novel, set during WWII in Australia. I like to read crime fiction set before, during and after that war, and this was especially interesting because I had not read much about Australia during that time. As the title indicates, the events take place from Christmas to New Year's Day. This was a somewhat gritty thriller.



 This leads to another mystery set at Christmas, Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown. This one is set in the UK in the 1980s, when it was published. The victim is the vicar's son-in-law, and he is found dead in a bedroom at the vicarage. The vicar, his wife, and his daughter are all suspects. This is a Christmas mystery that is not saccharine, and not cozy at all. This book is part of the Lloyd and Hill series, one of my favorite mystery series.

The link to my next book, Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, is quite clear. Not only are the titles very similar but Jill McGown's book was written as a homage to Christie's book. This novel is the first in the Miss Marple series and was published in 1930. The story is set in the village of St. Mary Mead. A very unpopular resident of the village is murdered in the vicar's study. The first person narrator is the Vicar. Miss Marple  is very perceptive and sees the evil that is hidden underneath the surface in the village.

My final link is to The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman, a completely different kind of mystery novel, with a touch of the supernatural, starring a female vicar. I have enjoyed series with clerical protagonists, but mixing the supernatural in was questionable and the length was daunting (589 pages).  However, the book proved to be especially interesting because it highlights the difficulties of being a woman priest; it was an engaging read and I loved every page of it.



12 comments:

  1. What a fascinating chain! I've watched the tv adaptation of Rickman's book and was intrigued.

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    1. Sandra, I did not know that there was an adaptation. That would be interesting.

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  2. You did a really good job on this chain! Loved it. I've read the Christie book, of course. However, have not read any of the others. I have read other books by Ayelet Waldman and also have The Wine of Angels on my Kindle, where it has been for a really long time. I need to read that one. Enjoyed this!

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    1. Thanks, Kay. I plan to read more books by Waldman. I have a couple of her mysteries, and would be willing to try the others if I find a copy at a reasonable price.

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  3. Oh, I like this chain, Tracy, very much. It's very clever. Sad to say, I think you're probably right that the issues in The Beauty Myth are still with us and still unresolved....

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    1. I am sure that The Beauty Myth would be an interesting book to read, Margot, maybe even more so if I read it when it came out.

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  4. I love the mysteries you included. I don't think I'd known that McGown's book was an homage to Christie's. I have read the first in the Lloyd & Hill series but have just never gotten to it. Shame on me!

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    1. Jill McGown is one of my favorite writers, Debbie. I have read all the books in the series, although the last couple are not as good as the earlier books. And I sometimes don't care for relationships in series but this one worked for me. I want to reread all of her books.

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  5. I think I read Murder at the Vicarage years ago. I'm just astonished by your comments on beauty in women being important where you grew up. Where I grew up in Scotland females would be well and truly sat on if it looked like they were developing pride in their appearance - beyond being clean! No vanity allowed.

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    1. Well, I have only lived in the southern US and in California, Katrina, but I did feel that where I grew up, women just had to look pretty or try, anyway. I am not saying California women are immune to that, especially the younger ones, but everything is more relaxed here.

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  6. Really enjoy the chain posts, and if you all start with the same book it must be fascinating to see where they all end up - presumably at very different places.
    And great to end up with Phil Rickman- I see that when you wrote about this book in 2014 I firmly said in the comments that this was one of my favourite series, and it still is.
    The TV adaptation wasn't bad, but I don't think they quite knew how to deal with it (and although the actress who played Merrily, Anna Maxwell Martin, is marvellous, she wasn't my idea of Merrily) or how to market it, so I don't think there will be another series. A shame. I was watching it, and asking others if they would, but the TV company had made it sound so peculiar and weird that I think people were put off. I think they should have stressed what a great character Merrily is... there's lots to work on.

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    1. The chain posts are fun, and they are all different. Interesting to see the directions people go in.

      I was going to reply that getting the Rickman books about Merrily is difficult here, but I looked and I can get the 2nd one now, so I will be doing that. And reading more in the series. I did see the actress that has played Merrily and she wasn't how I pictured Merrily either... But if I get a chance I will try the show anyway.

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