Six Degrees of Separation: From Murmur to Someone at a Distance

How can it be the beginning of June already? The year is flying past. But at least it means that it is time once again to take part in the Six Degrees meme, hosted by Kate over at BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest. For extra Six Degrees enjoyment, check out my playlist to link with this month’s titles over on my Leaping Tracks blog.

This month we start with Murmur by Will Eaves. This is a multi-award winning novel about a character whose life is based on that of Alan Turing. I have a copy on order from the library and am really looking forward to reading it.

Thinking about pioneering scientists, I am choosing for my first link Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin which showcases the amazing work of astronomers William and Caroline Herschel. Until fairly recently, William received all the plaudits for their work. But happily, and quite rightly, more is now being written about his sister’s equally important (and in some cases more significant) contributions.

Moving on, I am taking the universe as my next linking point. I love this quote….

“Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human. Bach tells you what it’s like to be the universe.”
Douglas Adams

….which makes me think of James Gaines’ Evening in the Palace of Reason. This book is about a meeting between J S Bach and Frederick the Great, an encounter which leads to Bach’s masterpiece composition ‘A Musical Offering’. I have had it on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf for years and am pleased to have been reminded of it now!

Switching from evening to morning for my next link, I have chosen Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. This is another book I have had for ages and really must get around to reading (one of the many joys of these six degrees posts is the unexpected shuffling of the To Be Read pile!). It is a powerful-sounding family story set against the backdrop of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

To carry on with a time-related link, we move on to Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys. I read Wide Sargasso Sea not so long ago, and was also interested in Diana Athill’s recollections about Rhys in Stet. So another reading plan (sigh) is to read more of her work, including this one which is set in Paris, leading me to…

….Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. As this list has rapidly taken on a ‘books I would like to read’ vibe, I thought this Paris-set story would be a good choice because I have recently started Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk and am sure I will want to read more of his work.

Giovanni’s Room is a close examination of the complexities of different types of love and obsession. Both this, and its French setting call to mind Dorothy Whipple’s Someone at a Distance, a wonderful book which, hurrah, I have actually read and is a fitting conclusion to the chain, given that I am participating in Jessie’s Persephone Readathon this week.

Next month we will be starting with the children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. See you then! 🙂

27 thoughts

  1. I think I’ve read all of Jean Rhys’ work now and you’ve a treat in store Liz! It does tend to be the same story each time, but I don’t mind authors who do that (I saw Kazuo Ishiguro interviewed once and he said that he thought that was exactly what authors should be doing) and her writing is so evocative.

    I have read any Baldwin and its a huge gap – he’s definitely in the TBR somewhere so I should dig him out.

    I’m looking forward to the Persephone readathon – I’ll be doing some reading for it today 🙂

    Great chain as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great to know re the Rhys, thank you! Glad you enjoyed the chain and that I have prompted some useful reading thoughts – it’s nice to return the favour after all those novellas. Enjoy your Persephone reading and I look forward to reports in due course 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got all hung up on that music quote! I don’t know and understand music well enough to really know what’s he’s getting at but it fascinates me and makes me wish I knew more! Is this Douglas Adams the Hitchhiker’s Guide guy?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely chain! I love the Douglas Adams quote as well, and wholeheartedly agree with it. Bach is something special. Perhaps I should see if I can find a copy of Evening in the Palace of Reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also don’t know these books. It’s so interesting (and shocking too ) that I have lived nearly 61 years and haven’t heard of most of these authors and now discover that there are hoards of people who know and love them. I liken the experience to that of astronomers who are discovering hundreds of new stars each week and expanding space to infinity!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve had Mornings in Jenin on the TBR pile for ages too and don’t know why I haven’t read it yet as it sounds so good! I enjoyed Someone at a Distance – I must read more by Dorothy Whipple.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll have to seek out the Herschel book. I also have a Herschel link: he lived (first with his sister and then with his wife) in Slough, our neighbouring town, where I used to work. Although his house there has been demolished, apparently there is a house with an observatory dome in my town where I believe his sister may have lived after he got married.Nope, I just checked and it wasn’t her, it was William Lassell, an amateur astronomer, who later became President of the Royal Astronomical Society, who added an observatory to his house. Sorry!

    Liked by 1 person

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