It’s time for another Six Degrees of Separation post. This is a monthly book list meme hosted by Kate over at BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest. We all start from the same point and add six more books, linked in any way of our choosing.
This month, we begin with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. Kate was inspired to pick this title by a brilliant post by Susan on her blog ALIfeInBooks showcasing novels about art. I love her recommendations generally, and in that post in particular, as did many others, who also added their own ‘art in novels’ suggestions.
So my first link is to one of those contributed titles, which I was delighted to see being endorsed because it is absolutely brilliant: Susan Fletcher’s Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew. This is about Vincent Van Gogh’s last days at the hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole in Provence, France. It made me weep as I finished it on the train coming back from Glasgow. I wonder what my fellow travellers thought was going on.
Another book which brought me to tears was The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal. This is an unusual story, utterly compelling and beautifully written. I first discovered de Waal’s writing via the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is always a marvellous source of bookish inspiration. The festival will be streaming online this year through August, so it is the perfect opportunity for people who can’t usually get to Edinburgh to join in.
I was able to ‘attend’ another book festival recently that I would not normally get to in person. The Hay Festival streamed a wide range of wonderful events, which can still be accessed via their Hay Player for a £10 annual subscription. I picked up many new reading recommendations, one being Ingrid Persaud’s Love After Love. I have the audio version, narrated by the author. Persuad gives a great performance and I am enjoying it immensely.
Thinking about marvellous audiobook performances takes me on to The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, to which I listened recently. This was narrated by Colin Firth. Say no more. 😉
Greene’s book is set in the time of the London Blitz. So I can very naturally link to Inez Holden and her two works, Night Shift and It Was Different At The Time, published together under the title Blitz Writing by the fabulous Handheld Press. I started reading my copy a couple of months ago but got distracted (surely not!), so must have another go.
Holden’s second title puts me in mind of one of the most famous opening lines of any book: ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ This is, of course, from L P Hartley’s The Go-Between. A beautiful and powerful read.
So this month’s chain takes me from a New York gallery in the late 20th century to a long, hot British summer at the end of the Victorian period. I love those chains which circle back on themselves. But chains like this one, which take various twists and turns are such fun too. In both cases, it is a great way to remind oneself of past reads, potential re-reads and reading yet to come (to paraphrase A Christmas Carol 😂). Roll on next month, when we start with Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing. Who knows where that will lead – perhaps nowhere! 😀