Six Degrees of Separation: from The Outsiders to Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts


It’s the beginning of another month, which means that it is time once again to indulge in the glorious adventure that is  ‘Six Degrees of Separation’. This is a meme hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a common starting point and participants then link to six other books to form a chain. It is endlessly amazing to see all the different results and I love making my contribution.

We kick of this month with S E Hinton’s The Outsiders. It is 50 years since this classic tale of teenage rebellion was published. I decided to re-read it prior to this post, finding that it has definitely stood the test of time.

For my first link, I opted for an opposite, picking something relating to ‘insiders’. I have recently started reading The Eye by Philippe Costamagna. Sub-titled ‘An Insider’s Memoir of Masterpieces, Money and the Magnetism of Art’, it reveals the intriguing life of connoisseurs devoted to the authentication and discovery of Old Master art works. The blurb states that it is ‘an eloquent argument for the enduring value of visual creativity, told with passion, brilliance and surprising candor’.

Thinking about art and passion takes me on to my next title, which is The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice by Judith Mackrell. This is about the lives of three ‘unconventional’ women and their connections with an abandoned Venetian palace against the background of Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Another book set in Venice which I very much enjoyed when it was first published is Miss Garnet’s Angel by Sally Vickers. This is a touching and beautiful story about a teacher coming to terms with retirement, interwoven with a re-examination of the ancient biblical story of Tobias and the Angel. I am definitely going to re-read this one.

And for my fourth link, I can draw on both the reference to garnets, and the name Tobias in the form of The Love of Stones by Tobias Hill. I have read this twice in the past – I very much enjoyed the engrossing story of three people’s quest to discover a legendary jewel. Set across two centuries and six continents, it’s a marvellous adventure. This is calling out for a re-read too!

Another type of ‘love of stones’ can be found in Tracy Chevalier’s fabulous novel Remarkable Creatures, which fictionalises the life of Mary Anning and her involvement with fossil hunting around Lyme Regis and the UK’s famous jurassic coast. She is these days rightly hailed as a pioneering scientist who contributed to changes in thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. Brilliant – and surely another candidate for a re-read lol!

And finally, mention of all things remarkable takes me along to another of my favourite subjects, namely ‘books about books’. Christopher de Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts acquaints us with important and beautiful artefacts we could never hope to see in person, exploring their impact on and contribution to culture and humanity.

So, as usual, I have travelled to unexpected places on my literary journey. I could not have foreseen that a novel about teenage gangs could lead to a beautiful academic reference work.  With these posts, I always like to see whether I can make the linear chain into a circle without being too convoluted. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that the end of the chain links back to the beginning through a shared interest in understanding different lives, cultures and perspectives. Perhaps that is a common thread through all these titles, and indeed through all books. Now there’s a PhD thesis in waiting!

Next month we start with Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Tune in then folks for more literary fun and frolics. And in the meantime why not check out my accompanying playlist post over on my music blog Leaping Tracks. It gives me great pleasure to pair my book chains with musical associations and I hope you enjoy it too. 🙂

26 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from The Outsiders to Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

    1. Thank you – and thanks also for the retweet! I hope to feed back on my Mackrell, and thanks for the tip re her other book which sounds equally readable. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’d forgotten about The Love of Stones. It’s another book that I met through my library reading group. Again, several of us read it after someone (Steve, I think) recommended it. I would never have picked it up otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Eye sounds fascinating and I loved Remarkable Creatures. And, listen, I’m reading a book you’d love, I think. It’s called Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas, by Donna Lucey. She has done amazing research to tell the stories of 4 gilded age women that Sargent painted, including Isabella Stewart Gardner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Miss Garnet’s Angel when I read it about eighteen years ago. True to form this evocative book not only reminded me of my own trip to Venice but introduced me to Prosecco!
    I also think it is about time that Mary Anning is celebrated more and in a book such as Remarkable Creatures. Having visited the museum in Lyme Regis I learnt that she really is an unsung hero of science.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it great that more and more women are being properly celebrated through literature. It is one of the vital ways in which the arts can enrich our understanding about society and history. xxx


  4. Great chain. I particularly like your first link! I enjoyed Remarkable Creatures too – Mary Anning had such an interesting life. And I love Venice, so will have to think about reading the Judith Mackrell and Salley Vickers books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it great to be able to exchange book views like this. I have added The Count to my TBR and am very happy to have piqued your interest in a couple of titles in return! 🙂


  5. Another wonderful mystery trail through books, Liz! I read ‘Miss Garnet’s Angel’ ages ago and I seem to remember quite enjoying it though can remember nothing much about it. I ought to find it again and have another read.
    I loved reading ‘Vanity Fair’ and enjoyed watching the 1987 televised version of it best of all – I didn’t bother with the most recent adaptation! I look forward to next month’s Six Degrees 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel exactly the same about Miss G’s Angel – I have fond memories of it, but can’t quite remember the full story, so have ordered it from the Library. I agree too about VF – I am a bit of a snob when it comes to ITV adaptations, lol! 😂

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      1. Some of the ITV adaptations haven’t been too bad recently. In fact a couple of them have been very good. What I really object to is the way the characters (especially the female ones) are made to behave as if they are 21st century people stuck in a community from the 19th century. I don’t mind a story being brought up to date and set in a different century from its original setting; that is quite an interesting project though it doesn’t always work. What I dislike is a character who is so modern and all-knowing that she/he appears to sneer and look down on the other characters in the story who are stuck in the past. I’m not sure that I have explained myself well here. I had a feeling that the new VF’s Becky Sharpe was jut too modern in her outlook.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s so interesting, Clare. I agree with you completely but am not sure I noticed it in this way, so I am glad you have articulated things so clearly! I too enjoy reworking of classics – we once saw an excellent production of Richard III set in Nazi Germany. I also enjoyed reading Ian McEwan’s Nutshell which is a complete retelling of Hamlet (excuse the Shakespeare theme emerging!). It often works when the whole production is framed from the new perspective. But problems emerge if this is only partly achieved as you say. It is good to challenge ourselves with new ideas, particularly if one believes the premise that all art is based on just a handful of story outlines (not sure if I do, but it’s an interesting thought). I suppose even the ideas which don’t work too well give us food for thought about why not…!

        Liked by 1 person

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