Six degrees of separation: from The Arsonist to A Time to Keep Silence

Arriving at the first Saturday in March provides another opportunity to participate in the Six Degrees of Separation meme, hosted by Kate over at BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest.

This time we are all starting with The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper, a book which has not yet been published in the UK but looks like an amazing read. It has been longlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize and it will be very interesting to see if it makes the short list on 8 March.

Meanwhile, we have links to forge…..

I see that the Stella Prize is named after the author Miles Franklin, whose full name was Stella Maria Sarah ‘Miles’ Franklin. I have on my shelves Franklin’s novel My Brilliant Career. This is the tale of a 16-year old girl growing up on her parent’s outback farm. I can remember starting to read it a little while ago, but must have been diverted onto something else, so I must get back to it soon.

Another book set in Australia which I can remember reading ages ago is Kate Grenville’s The Secret RiverThis edition has an introduction by Diana Athill which I’ll be interested to read – I have just finished Athill’s book Stet and absolutely loved her writing.

Thinking about rivers takes me to A Bend in the River by V S Naipaul. Like My Brilliant Career, this lies (so far) unread on my shelf and really deserves a bit more attention.

Part of Naipaul’s story involves a shop. One of my favourite literary shops is the one owned by Daniel’s father in The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I ‘read’ this book in audio form and remember being both gripped and terrified!

Using the wind as my next link allows me to choose a book which I absolutely love the sound of, namely Where the Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt. I think part of the attraction is the close affinity of the title to that wonderful story Where the Wild Things Are. But I also really like the idea of stories about wild landscapes.

I read that part of Hunt’s inspiration for this book came from the work of Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose memoir A Time to Keep Silence I enjoyed last year. It is a beautiful, calm and quiet book – quite the opposite, I would think, to The Arsonist – not many people would keep quiet in the midst of a fire. But that’s the beauty of this wonderful reading hobby of ours, isn’t it – the chance to experience stories from both ends of all spectrums.

I often try with these six degrees posts to end up back where I started, via an unexpected route. But equally interesting has been this journey to the other side.

Next month we’ll be starting with How to be Both by Ali Smith. 🙂



24 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation: from The Arsonist to A Time to Keep Silence

  1. Thank you for your post. What a great idea to link 6 books. I too really enjoyed the “Shadow of the Wind”. Now, I really fancy reading all the other books on your post but particularly “Where the Wild Winds Are ” and “A Time to keep Silence”. Those are definitely going on my birthday list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you used the Stella Prize as your first link and am grateful, as it has brough me to The Secret River. I love early settler books and this one is now going onto my TBR. Lovely to connect. My own chain ended with early settlers in Nebraska (My Antonia by Willer Cather)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed The Secret River, The Shadow of the Wind and Stet. I’ve read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts but not A Time to Keep Silence., although I have his Between the Woods and the Water waiting to be read.

    I like the way your chain ends on a contrast to The Arsonist.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your first link – very clever! I remember reading The Shadow of the Wind years ago, but I haven’t read any of the other books in your chain. I do want to read The Secret River as I haven’t read enough books set in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Helen! One of the things I love about our six degrees posts is being reminded of past beloved reads – I’m definitely going to dig out the secret river again. 🙂


  5. Interesting to see the overseas cover for The Arsonist!
    I applaud your research on Stella Miles Franklin 🙂 My Brilliant Career is almost compulsory reading in Australia and probably one I should reread – no doubt one of my kids will have to do it for school and then I’ll bump it up the list.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really enjoyed A Bend in the River, and the Book Cemetery in SotW was awesome as well, despite all the books I enjoyed that a little less. I would love to read both again though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I have you to thank for ABitR – I have moved it to a more prominent place on the shelves since writing this post, which is some kind of progress!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved The Secret River, and A Bend in the River is on my library wishlist. Maybe this is the prompt I need to place a reservation. My Brilliant Career sounds intriguing, too.


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