Six Degrees of Separation: from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Headlong

 

It’s time for another Six Degrees post – yay! Hosted by Kate, this is a monthly meme where we all start from the same bookish point and add six more books which are somehow linked in any way we choose.  Love it!

 

 

This month we start with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  I gave this a quick re-read last weekend and found it interesting to read such familiar pages from an adult point of view.  I think I may have enjoyed the book more this time – my recollection of reading it as a child was utter bewilderment!

 

To start the chain I have chosen to link to one of the most iconic elements of Alice – the playing card characters, which I absolutely love. They are loyal servants to the Queen of Hearts in the most difficult of employee circumstances!  It puts me in mind of Michael Dobbs’ House of Cards in which the characters are anything but loyal.

 

 

A house of cards is notoriously precarious, reminding us that life as we know it can change at any moment. Such is the case in the brilliant Station Eleven by Emily St John, where a deadly virus sweeps across America – how might the few survivors rebuild their lives….? I must re-read this one some time.

 

Meanwhile, another book with a number in its title is Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.  I remember this being totally gripping, not just for the main storyline, but also for the insights about life in 1950s Russia.  Highly recommended.

 

 

Child 44 is the first book in a trilogy.  Another such title is Pat Barker’s Life Class, which is about the lives of Slade Art School students around the time of the First World War.  It is a super read and I am currently half-way through the follow up, Toby’s Room.

 

My fifth link draws on the Slade theme.  The art school has many famous alumni, including Gwen John, who these days gets deserved recognition as an artist in her own right, rather than being eclipsed by the celebrity of her husband Augustus. Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster opens with an imagined Gwen, struggling to make her way as an artist in Paris.  Forster uses a particular painting to explore the lives of women whom it touches across the 20th century. It sounds like just my thing and I have it on order from the library.

 

Another book which is about a particular painting and which I absolutely loved is Headlong by Michael Frayn.  In typical Frayn style, this is something of a comedy thriller about what happens when the main character thinks he has discovered a missing masterpiece.  It was a highly enjoyable read and another one which I should look at again.  (These six degrees posts are a nightmare for flagging up new reads, and for making one’s re-read list ever longer!! 😱😂)

 

So there you have it – a chain which begins with a character falling headlong down a curious rabbit hole and finishes with a character falling headlong down an ever-more crazy rabbit hole. I did not see that circularity coming when I started.  Oh the joys, surprises and satisfaction of writing these posts – such fun!! 🙂

33 thoughts

    • Thanks Susan! A few years ago I had the wonderful opportunity with my work to visit the Scottish National Ballet behind the scenes, and it just happened to coincide with a production of Alice. It was amazing to be up close to all the amazing costumes and the playing cards made a big impression then too!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Seems re-reading Alice is having one of two results – enjoying it more or far less! Personally, I have enjoyed it more the older I get – it’s all the layers and themes that aren’t so obvious when you’re a kid, dazzled by the craziness!

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    • I was surprised to enjoy it as much as I did and am thinking of revisiting some other children’s classics as a result. More for the TBR pile….!

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  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was certainly a good starting point! It led you on a great adventure. I planned to read Rachel Carson this November, as you know, but my rabbit hole has taken me to William Dalrymple’s From the Holy Mountain.

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  3. I love the Alice books, I had Station Eleven once but never got around to it. As ever more books to the pile. IS the House of Cards book, the one that had the two series in the UK and America?

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  4. Another well written and interesting blog with great links, Liz. It’s as though you are talking your way through, it is so naturally written – and I too would like to read Keeping the World Away.

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    • Thank you Annabel, really pleased you enjoyed the chain. And thanks for the heads up about the new EstJM novel – will definitely look out for that! 😀

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  5. Great chain! I haven’t read Alice since I was a child, but I’m sure I would get a lot out of reading it as an adult. I really need to make time for some re-reads of children’s classics!

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    • Thanks Helen! I don’t know how we are going to fit in children’s classics with all the other stuff to read but we should definitely try!

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  6. I love following you down the rabbit hole, Liz. I never know where I will end up. But I know it will be a satisfying, exciting, even electrify ride. I have gone back to Lewis Carroll of late – so many thoughts that need to be reconsidered. “Alice:How long is forever? White Rabbit:Sometimes, just one second.” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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  7. I loved this chain, Liz and the way you found your way back to the beginning again. Very clever! I have read Alice many times since becoming an adult as both my daughters loved it when they were young (and still do, as far as I am aware). If you get a chance have a look at Anthony Browne’s Alice in Wonderland. The illustrations are super-wonderful and had my daughters entranced for hours. https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/gallery/2015/mar/29/anthony-browne-alice-in-wonderland-lewis-carroll
    I love anything written by Pat Barker and have read many of her books including Life Class and Toby’s Room. (Is there a link here to Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Clare – it is always extra satisfying when the chain turns in to a loop! Thanks so much also for that link – what brilliant illustrations, and how clever to bring a new feel to such an iconic treasure. And I love that leap from Toby to Jacob. Next month’s starting point is Jane Austen’s Sandition – might you be tempted?

      Liked by 1 person

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