Six Degrees of Separation: from Beezus and Ramona to Farewell My Lovely

It’s time for another Six Degrees post. Hosted by Kate, this is a meme where we all start with the same title, add six linked titles and see where we end up. It’s amazing and fascinating to see how different everyone’s chains are.

Mt chains seem to have become a repository for my reading aspirations and this month is no different. I decided to use as my links only titles that I already own, but haven’t yet read (with one exception) in the hope that it may spur me on to actually finish some of them some time……!

We start with Beezus and Ramona by Beverley Cleary. This is not a book I had heard of before Kate picked it for this month’s chain. Apparently this is a classic children’s book about ‘the ups and downs of sisterhood’.

So for my first link, I am going with another book about sisters – The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This is the story of identical twins whose lives take very different paths. This has over 45,000 four and five star reviews on Amazon and must be a strong contender for the 2021 Women’s Prize, for which it has just been shortlisted.

A book from the Women’s Prize longest which didn’t make the shortlist is Clare Chambers’ Small Pleasures. This is the one title from my chain which I have managed to read. I really enjoyed it, but haven’t yet written a review because it is quite hard to see how to do so in a way which is sufficiently meaningful without spoiling the book’s impact for a new reader.

Anyway, one thing I can say is that it is set in 1957, which allows me to link to a book published that year: The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier. This is my planned read for Ali’s annual DdM readalong next month.

I gather that the characters in The Scapegoat meet at a railway station. One book I am currently half-way through which involves a very famous railway-related meeting is Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. I’ve wanted to read this one for ages and was particularly motivated to pick it up when I heard that Amanda Craig takes Highsmith’s story as her inspiration for The Golden Rule, which also sounds like a great read.

I could have taken that book as my fifth link, but I don’t yet have a copy of it. So sticking with my overall theme of books that I own, I am going with A Stranger in my Grave by Margaret Miller. In this story, the main character keeps dreaming of her own death and hires a private detective to help her reconstruct the day on which her dream is supposedly set.

And so for my final title, I am linking to another book featuring a private detective – the iconic Phillip Marlowe in Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler.

This month’s chain starts with one type of classic and ends with another, although the two could hardly be more different!

Next month we start with The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld, which has just won the 2021 Stella Prize. I am very happy that Kate has picked this because it has literally just arrived in my library ebook loan list, and I live just up the road (relatively speaking) from its setting. I fully hope to have read this in time for next month’s chain. 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

*Featured image: Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

38 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from Beezus and Ramona to Farewell My Lovely

  1. Great links, I’m especially interested in The Scapegoat. I’m going to read Frenchman’s Creek for DdM week and am feeling very inspired by everything du Maurier!

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  2. I haven’t read anything by Beverley Cleary, but she’s still a rather popular choice at our school’s library. I recognize a couple of the books on your chain and still want to read The vanishing half and Strangers on a train.

    Nice selection!

    May you have a wonderful May!

    Elza Reads

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  3. I persuaded my book group to read The Scapegoat several years ago and it was a great discussion. I think you will enjoy it! I am going to read The House on the Strand for D du M Week.

    A Stranger in My Grave sounds intriguing. I will check if my library has it.

    I am surprised you had never heard of Beezus and Ramona but Cleary was probably not as popular outside the US although she was published in many countries.

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  4. I loved The Scapegoat when i read it years ago – I read as many of DdM’s books at that time. Rebecca was my favourite. Strangers on a Train is also on my TBR pile, hope to read it soon. I like the sound of The Vanishing Half.

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  5. A very interesting list and connections. I need to check about the scapegoat as my mum had many DdM books, if that one is there. I do like reading Daphne. However the others sound rather interesting too.

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  6. I too had never heard of Beverly Cleary before this, it’s definitely not just you!

    All of your books sound really interesting. I heard Small Pleasures read on BBC Sounds and absolutely loved it – they have had some great things on lately, and this was one of the best. I do plan to read the book itself soon.

    I’ve got more unread than read books on my shelves too. I’m going to take part in the 20 Books of Summer challenge in an attempt to be more disciplined (it worked for me last year.) I’ve not read The Scapegoat, but (dare I admit this?) I struggle a bit with Du Maurier. I have read Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, and I sort of enjoyed them, but I wouldn’t say they were favourite reads for me.

    I too am intrigued by The Bass Rock – and I too used to live quite near it (at Drem.) I’m up in Aberdeenshire now, but I always thought the stories about the E Lothian witches were fascinating.

    I struggled with my chain this month (and last!) and in the end it remained firmly stuck in children’s books: https://sconesandchaiseslongues.blogspot.com/2021/05/six-degrees-of-separation-may-2021.html

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    1. Thanks Rosemary, that’s very reassuring about Clearly’s books!! That’s a great idea about the 20 books of summer challenge – I saw a post about it recently so will consider giving it a go (especially as I could not resist buying yet more books when I visited my first post-lockdown bookshop yesterday!!).

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  7. Great chain, Liz, especially with the constraint you placed on it of choosing only books you own and haven’t read. I’d like to read of them now! The one that’s already on my tbr is The Golden Rule and I’ve added next month’s starter book which sounds brilliant. Can’t see me reading that before next months six degrees is due though!

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    1. Thanks so much Sandra. I am really going to try to read The Bass Rock before next month’s meme, but I fear that may prove simply to be a triumph of hope over experience 🤣

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  8. Such an interesting chain. Liz! I have never heard of Beezus and Ramona and haven’t read anything by Beverly Cleary; you are not alone! Thank you for the introduction to so many intriguing titles; Clare Chambers’ book sounds good! The Scapegoat is a DdM I haven’t read yet but I have read Farewell My Lovely.

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      1. Thank you, Liz! I haven’t been able to keep up with anything recently – all is in disarray! My daughter is frantically trying to get all her projects finished for the end of her 2nd year at uni (all on-line) and I seem to spend most of my time attempting to get her to calm down! I had my second Covid vaccine nearly two weeks ago and am still recovering from the rather nasty reaction to it. I hope you and Hub are coping well xxx

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      2. Hi Clare, I just noticed I had not replied to your comment, so sorry about that. I really hope that you are now well past the reaction to your Jab and that things have gone smoothly for your daughter and her uni work. What a tense time for everyone. Sending love and hugs xxx

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      3. Thank you so much, Liz and no worries ❤ We are all absolutely fine and now waiting for my daughter to be contacted about her own first vaccine appointment! I hope you and yours are well and enjoying the summer. Love and hugs xxxx

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