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. 🙂

A bit more on the fabulous work of Victoria Crowe….

In my last post, I waxed lyrical about the gorgeous art of Scottish artist Victoria Crowe.  I just found this link to a preview version of her recent exhibition at The Scottish Gallery – it’s definitely worth a flick as it gives a lovely sense of her brilliant landscape work.

Victoria Crowe – A Certain Light   (Click on the ‘view preview of catalogue’ button and enjoy!)