Sunday, May 6, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation from The Poisonwood Bible to Wartime


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.

The starting point this month is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I have not read the book, and knew nothing about it until now. Per the author's website:
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.
The fact that the story included narration from each of the daughters, from a five-year-old to a teenager, sounds very interesting, but the length of the book (over 500 pages) might put me off.

Moving on to my first link, I chose to go with another book set in Africa, Tefuga by Peter Dickinson. I read that book in 2004 and I remember being very impressed by the book and especially the ending. The book is set in Nigeria and tells the story of a man in the 1980's filming the story of his mother's experiences in that country in the 1920's. Alternating chapters are from her diary. Now I want to reread that book.



My next book is another book by the same author, King and Joker. This one is an alternative history and a mystery, and one of my favorite books ever. The premise is described at Peter Dickinson's website:
If Prince Edward hadn't died in 1892 he would have succeeded to the throne of England, instead of his brother George, and reigned as King Victor I, to be succeeded in his turn by his grandson King Victor II, the present monarch. Much would have remained the same, but much would have been very, very different. 
The story is told from the point of view of the teen-age Princess Louise.

Another alternative history / mystery is Farthing by Jo Walton. It is part of a trilogy set in the 1940's after Britain has made peace with Hitler. A murder occurs at a house party in the country, during a retreat of members of the Farthing Set, the group that supported appeasement rather than war. Part of the narrative focuses on Lucy Kahn, daughter of the proprietors of the Farthing estate, and her husband, the only Jewish person attending the house party.


The policeman investigating the death at the country house in Farthing is a Scotland Yard detective sent from London. In my next book, the detectives are also London police detectives but they work for the Metropolitan Police force in the Peculiar Crimes Unit. The book is Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler and the detectives are Arthur Bryant and John May. They are elderly and eccentric and very effective in the long run.

Now I move on to another elderly sleuth, Miss Maud Silver, featured in over thirty novels written by Patricia Wentworth between 1928 and 1961. The Clock Strikes Twelve, published in 1945, begins on the last day in 1941. Thus this is set during World War II and shows the effects of the war on the various characters.


I enjoy reading mystery novels set during World War II, both those written at the time, and historical mysteries. But my last book is a nonfiction book, a very in-depth coverage of Britain during the war: Wartime: Britain 1939-1945 by Juliet Gardiner. It focuses on how World War II affected the populace of Great Britain, using in many cases quotes from letters and diaries written during that time. The emphasis is on what happened in the country itself, not on the war waged in other countries.

These chains are a lot of fun. I learn about books I haven't read (and might want to read) and remember series I want to continue reading. Now I am reading the 6th book in Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series, The Victoria Vanishes.


20 comments:

  1. Some interesting sounding books there. I've read The Poisonwood Bible and thought it was really very good indeed. The others I've not read but quite fancy Farthing as I like Jo Walton's writing.

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    1. I think I would like The Poisonwood Bible, Cath. Maybe someday I can make room for it on my TBR. I enjoyed Farthing and the rest of Jo Walton's trilogy and I like her writing too.

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  2. I always learn about new-to-me mystery authors and books here! I've not read The Poisonwood Bible, but I've certainly known about it. Skipped this month's chain as I'm still technically on a break. I like the look of several of the others you mentioned. Good job!

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    1. It looks like I focused on mystery (and fantasy) writers from the UK this time, Kay, and I did not even notice that until now.

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  3. THE POISONWOOD BIBLE is excellent. Perhaps the favorite book of my 15 year book club. Have not read any of the others.

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    1. I keep hearing good things about The Poisonwood Bible, Patti. I really like Peter Dickinson's books because he always has a unique approach to ideas and themes.

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  4. I like the links you've made here, Tracy. Very clever. I especially like that you've included different genres and author styles.

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    1. Thanks, Margot. I try not to stay too much with mystery novels, but it is mostly what I read so...

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  5. I love, love, LOVE the Peculiar Crimes Unit books. Christopher Fowler is wonderful. As for Miss Silver, I can't remember if I've read THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE - I must have. But I'll give it another looksee when Kindle has them on sale at some point. KING AND JOKER and FARTHING look very intriguing, Tracy. I do like alternate history if done well.

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    1. I am not surprised that you like Fowler's books, Yvette. They seem like your type of fiction. You should definitely give the two alternate history books a try.

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    2. I'm another fan of the Fowler books, though I have yet to get to the one you show in this post. I started reading them in order, but got sidetracked somehow :-)

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    3. I have the same problem, Rick. I read Ten Second Staircase about 5 years ago, and I just got around to reading The Victoria Vanished now. I skipped the 5th book because we could not find it in our house although I am sure it is hiding somewhere. But the author says not to worry, there are only two that have a connection and should be read together.

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  6. P.S. WARTIME BRITAIN looks mighty interesting too. I am also a big fan of books set during this time.

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    1. I learned a lot from Wartime, Yvette, there was so much I did not know about how the UK was affected by the war.

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  7. You do these connections so well Tracy. I read the Poisonwood Bible, and didn't feel strongly either way about it (except for remembering that it is very long). But I love your middle section of Peter Dickinson and Jo Walton. I would like to re-read him, and read more of her.

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    1. I usually like books with narrations by various people, Moira, but I usually have to force myself to read longer books. Talking about Peter Dickinson's books reminded me how many of his books I have not yet read (and that is just the mysteries).

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  8. I'll have to try some more from Christopher Fowler - don't know when though.(Another series, I kind of collected, but never read past the first!) Something from Wentworth also sits on the pile.

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    1. The Christopher Fowler books are a weird mix, Col. Not really cozy, because they have darker subjects sometimes, and they seem to appeal to many different types of readers.

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  9. Like you, I enjoy the fact that Six Degrees exposes links between books that you might not have otherwise known about or considered. My TBR stack grows every month after reading other people's chains!

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    1. This has been a great discovery for me, Kate. When I first saw it at other blogs, I thought it would be too hard for and too much work. Well, it does take some work but well worth the expenditure. And I get to enjoy the chains at other blogs.

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