Book Reviews · Other

Six Degrees of Separation: What Was She Thinking?/Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller

In this meme, books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

I had never heard of this week’s starting book, What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, so I got it from the library, albeit too late to finish it in time for this month’s chain. I’m a quarter of the way through as of today and it has been compelling. I will review it when I finish. Therefore, my choices may not be those I’d have made had I finished the book in time.

Book One

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I supposed I could go all the way through the chain with school books, but nah! Anyway, this one is set in a prep school (American for boarding school for rich kids like those with the names Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Bush) and features some very explicit and scandalous scenes (or does it?). I reviewed it on my old blog, so I’m linking to Amazon. The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene.

Book Two

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Mentioning the Roosevelts made me include this, yet another prep school book, but surely one of the greatest. The stifling atmosphere is well portrayed in this book–modeled on the Groton of Endicott Peabody, the school attended by T.R., F.D.R., and their sons and written by a (sort-of?) step-relative of Jackie Kennedy’s via “Hugh D” her step-father (who was also once step-related to Gore Vidal?? Crazy). The Rector of Justin by Louis Auchincloss (my review was lost on my old blog).

Book Three

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Another place full of well educated people, but with a stifling atmosphere is a Cathedral. In this case the Cathedral includes the British type of Prep School–one for posh little boys Prince George’s age, but who sing like angels. This is one of the “Aga Saga” queen’s best books and was made into a tv series in the ’90s (iirc). The Choir by Joanna Trollope (my review was lost on my old blog).

Book Four

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Another book about a claustrophobic religious life is In This House of Brede, by another great ’60s author (Auchincloss was one), Rumer Godden. In this book a very successful woman leaves her success behind and enters a convent. In This House of Brede (my review was lost on my old blog).

Book Five

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[I’m really stretching here :)] A successful woman, hounded by a scandal over a tragedy, marries a prep school educated politician and brings him to sobriety via her Methodist faith. The author’s best book by far. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Book Six

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To (sort of) bring us full circle, a politician’s wife (Book Five) who was a teacher in a private school (albeit one for girls), married a man educated at a prep school, had to endure many a Bishop, wash successful in her own right (and may for a few years have wished she’d run to a convent) and who caused scandals with not only her “intimate” female friendships, but as the starting book, with a much younger man (men, actually). Full circle? You decide. This is the best of the two Eleanor novels. Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert.

Why not join the fun in November? We’ll be starting with

Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Here’s the blub for this month’s starting book The Form and Emptiness.

I didn’t like the author’s last book, A Tale for the Time Being

One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house—a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous. At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world. He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many. And he meets his very own Book—a talking thing—who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
 

First Book

Another book with a character named Benny is:

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I was mesmerized by this story when it came out–gosh I was young! “Benny” Hogan–Bernadette, if I remember correctly–a name I always thought would be so cool to have. A Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchey.

Second Book

Another group of friends:

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Unlike Circle of Friends, this group went to Vassar–don’t we all wish we had? The Group by Mary McCarthy.

Third Book

Just after The Group another bunch of friends arrived at some elite colleges…..

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The next generation of Seven Sisters Colleges girls was profiled in The Last Convertible–a favorite of mine. (The 1970s mini-series for TV was also good, but the book was better). The younger sisters, if you will, of The Group.

Fourth Book

When they came home after the war they became….

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…they became the men and women who elected Jack Kennedy President. The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam. An outstanding book, but one few will tackle today due to its huge size.

Fifth Book

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Between World War II and Jack Kennedy’s election as President, the men were mostly just men like this–wearing gray flannel suits and taking the train into the city each morning–my Dad included, albeit into Chicago. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson (see the film, too, staring Gregory Peck).

Sixth Book

All of these men wanted to have ….

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The Right Stuff-the “thing” the Mercury Astronauts, and presumably their wives, had that made them special. The movie is superb, too. Think of poor Betty Grissom–greeted with a fridge full of food and a kitchenette–all that could be awarded to “honorable Mrs. Squirming Hatch-Blower.” “No Jackie?”

I hope this chain entertained you!

Next month we’ll start with the book you finished with this month–very unusual, but what a fun idea!

Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: Wintering by Katherine May

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

About the book

Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered. A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat…..

I read, and surprisingly loved, this book. Here is a link to my review.

Follow up on my review. After reading the book, I’ve spent more than a year having an ice-cold smoothie for breakfast. It is almost always chocolate blueberry. (1 cup of Carbmaster vanilla yogurt, 2 teaspoons baking cocoa, 1 cup of water, ice). I’ve always gone for cold drinks in the morning. The smoothie helps as much, or more, than just a cold caffeinated drink (unsweetened iced tea). That could be the vitamins in the unsweetened blueberries, but I think that blast of super-cold also helps. The idea came from one of the stories in the book and how to adapt that story’s “cure” to a landlocked area.

My Chain

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I intentionally read this book at the same time as May’s, so it was the first book that came to mind. This time the wintering is about geese. We still learn about coping and adapting though, just like in May’s book, both from the life of the geese and from the life of the author. Wintering: A Season With Geese by Stephen Rutt (the link is to my review).

Another book, and excellent movie, with flying fowl in the winter is The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate. Young Osbert’s duck still haunts me. (I read this not long after it came out so the link is to Amazon–I do not make money off your clicks). 

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Another book set on a (likely) one-time sporting estate that would have hosted shooting parties is The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly.

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Another kind of estate is the one that conveys money and other “effects” to one’s heirs. Of that estate is put into  a “trust” for tax purposes like in the book Family Trust by Kathy Wang.

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A book that includes both types of estates and has a garden-tie in (the Rose Festival) is the wonderful My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich, in which the main character benefits from the legal estate and decides to do something based on something she’s read.

 

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Another book (a lifelong favorite of mine) in which a main character decides to do something based on something they’ve read and involves a (legal) estate is Auntie Mame. (Sorry no geese). Patrick reads in The Digest (ok, it’s a magazine, not a book, but….) about someone’s most unforgettable character and decides to tell about his most unforgettable character–his Auntie Mame who was his only living realitive after his father died and so took him in and raised him.  Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis. (I’ve read Auntie Mame and Dennis’s The Joyous Season more times than I can count.)

So from a nonfiction book on coping to a book of the same title about geese to a book about shooting water fowl for sport to a book about the garden of an estate where birds probably were once shot for sport to the other kind of estate, to a book with both kinds of estates where a character bases a decision on something she read to another book where a character is affected by a legal estate and then acts on something he’s read. Got all that? Whew!

 

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Why not join the fun next month? We’ll start out chains with The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

My review of Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, from 2014 on my old blog:

  Odd book that isn’t really about a Buddhist nun like it proports to be. My favorite character was the cat. A little sprinkling of sci-fi and a dump of hard science that I couldn’t begin to fathom, but that didn’t last long. A few “ick” moments (skip the intro if you want to miss the biggest one). Overall, the story was interesting though. Could have done without the mandatory PC-anti war screed, but it was a fleeting second in the story.”
Book Reviews

6 Degrees of Separation: Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

About the Book

“Martha Friel just turned forty. Once, she worked at Vogue and planned to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content. She used to live in a pied-à-terre in Paris. Now she lives in a gated community in Oxford, the only person she knows without a PhD, a baby or both, in a house she hates but cannot bear to leave. But she must leave, now that her husband Patrick—the kind who cooks, throws her birthday parties, who loves her and has only ever wanted her to be happy—has just moved out.”

OR since that is one of the worst blurbs ever, click the linked text to read my review

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

My Chain

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My first thought was “Meg”–so another book by an author named Meg is The Wife by Meg Wolitzer.

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Another novel about the wife of a famous writer is The Paris Wife: A Novel  by Paula McLain. My review was lost on my old blog, but I loved it.

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Another book with Paris in the title that involves an affairs is The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel and translated by Alison Anderson.

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Another book featuring a train trip is The Last Train to London: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton. (It is also another book by a “Meg.”)

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A chocolatier has a big part in The Last Train to London. Another book with a chocolatier is Chocolat: A Novel b Joanne Harris. (My review for this book was lost).

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Chocolat featured a priest and in Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym like most of the Pym books I’ve read so far, are always debating High Church or Low Church, Catholic and Anglican priests are usually in there somewhere. Tenuous link, but it brings us back to London!

 

Next Month

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Why not join the fun next month when the starting book will be Wintering by Katherine May (my review is linked) an interesting nonfiction choice!

Book Reviews

6 Degrees of Separation: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the details HERE at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

The Starting Book

“I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.” In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.

I have not read this book and probably won’t be reading it. I had enough Westerns and that sort of story when my Dad was alive, well, and in command of the tv to last me a lifetime!

My Chain

Book One

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I’m starting with the first book that comes to mind. In this case it is a favorite of my Dad’s, True Grit (though he knew the John Wayne film–not sure if he ever read the book). Mattie is 14 to Ned Kelly’s 12 when she is orphaned. She and U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn hunt down his killer. Some similarities in the stories.

Book Two

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A book I know my Dad read that has a John Wayne/Western-ish topic (and a very serious topic) is Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. It presented a very different version of the West from the John Wayne one. It was possibly the first book to tell the truth about what the United States did to the Native American population.

Book Three

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A novel that deals with U.S. “Indian” policy in a different way–the institutionalization of children to force them to “assimilate” is This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (link is to my review).

Book 4

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Another population treated badly by U.S. policy are the incarcerated–especially African American men. In this novel they are  young men sentenced to “reform school” in Florida. The Nickel School has a lot in common with the School in This Tender Land. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (link is to my review).

Book 5

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Nanci Kincaid’s novel has a link with incarceration in the state of Florida–a chain gang member who befriends a young girl. (My review was lost on my old blog). As Hot as it Was You Out to Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid is just $1.99 for Kindle right now.

Book 6

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Rory’s life isn’t that much like Berry’s in As Hot As it Was, but it also isn’t that much different. I’d put money on someone in that trailer park or in Rory’s family being in prison or just out of prison. Certainly someone has seen the inside of a jail cell. Plus it’s in Nevada where a lot of John Wayne movies could have been set and might have been film. That’s almost full circle!  Girlchild: A Novel by Tupelo Hassman (link is to my review).

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Why not join in the Six Degrees fun next month when we will start our chains with Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason which, for once, I just bought.

Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

About the book

Leah is changed. A marine biologist, she left for a routine expedition months earlier, only this time her submarine sank to the sea floor. When she finally surfaces and returns home, her wife Miri knows that something is wrong. Barely eating and lost in her thoughts, Leah rotates between rooms in their apartment, running the taps morning and night. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded, Leah has carried part of it with her, onto dry land and into their home. As Miri searches for answers, desperate to understand what happened below the water, she must face the possibility that the woman she loves is slipping from her grasp. (from Amazon)

I had not even heard of this book, so it is obvious I haven’t read it.

Most links are to my reviews.

Book One

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Unless you count the nonfiction books on Noel Coward and his long-time partner Graham Payn, the first book I LOVED about a single-sex couple like Leah/Miri in the starting book, was Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I LOVED it.

Book Two

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A fictionalized version of a real life First Family that included (over the years) more than one same-sex relationship (including a trio living together with linen having all three monograms) was the family of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. While Franklin could have coined the term “work wife,” Eleanor had relationships with both men and women. I love this book–it was “my” Eleanor. The best-seller, rival novel, was not “my” Eleanor at all, but was well-written. Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

Book Three

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Another book I loved with “Loving” in the title is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, about Frank Lloyd Wright. I haven’t read it’s “twin” or “rival” novel by TC Boyle because I liked this one so much. It was my favorite book of its publication year, in fact.

Book Four

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Another book with a character named Frank (why do Americans say “named” and Brits say “called”??) is M*A*S*H–the novel that spawned the movie and long-running t.v. show. Frank Burns, the idiot doctor from Ft. Wayne, Indiana who had the affair with Hot Lips! (There was actually a series of MASH books–MASH Goes to Maine, etc which are now long forgotten and out-of-print). M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker is $1.99 for Kindle right now (with a new cover–this is the original, the one it had when I read it in the ’70s).

Book Five

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M*A*S*H was set in Korea (during the Korean War). Another novel partially set in Korea is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

Book Six

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Pachinko dealt with a marginalized group of people in Japan. Another book dealing with a marginalized group of people in Japan is Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa. What a moving book!

So, I didn’t go “full circle” this month, but I did make a chain!

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Why not join the fun next month? We’ll start out chains with Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang.

Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: End of the Affair by Graham Greene

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

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I read this book when I was too  young to appreciate it. I loved the movie with Deborah Kerr. I may try to listen to it now that I am “old enough to appreciate it”–especially since Colin Firth is the performer on the new version.

My Chain

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Covert Affair by Jennet Conant was the first “affair” book that came to mind. These two served in a part of WWII headed by an expert at affairs!

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The “Supremo” or Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, where the Julia and Paul Child served was Prince Philip’s Uncle” Dickie.” The Mountbattens by Andrew Lownie. Lord Louis (aka “Dickie”) as he was then, is famous for saying that he and wife, Edwina, spent the whole of their married life getting in and out of bed with other people.

I have read, but not reviewed The Mountbattens: Their Life and Loves by Andrew Lownie

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Another scandalous Mountbatten was Nada, Marchioness of Milford Haven. Born Countess Nadejda de Torby daughter of Russian Grand Duke Michael Michalovich and sister-in-law of Dicki Mountbatten, she was mentioned in the trial over “Little Gloria” for having been the same-sex lover of Gloria’s mother. (For those who do not know, “Little Gloria,” is the mother of Anderson Cooper).

[It was Nada and her husband, George, who mostly took care of Prince Philip in the holidays. Dickie came in only after George’s death. It is Nada’s grandson, Ivor, who is the first openly gay (and in a single-sex marriage) member of the greatly extended “royal” family. He was at school with Prince Edward].

 

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Little Gloria’s mother had a twin sister, Thelma, who was the “woman before Wallis” in the life of the then Prince of Wales, Edward (aka “David” to friends and family). He had one of the most notorious affairs in history.

 

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One of the saddest and most cowardly things done by a royal until that Oprah interview, was the way Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) dumped his long-time mistress, Freida Dudley Ward. When she called, as she did every day he was in London. the Buckingham Palace Operator had to do the dirty work for his future sovereign by saying “I’m sorry, Ma’am, I have orders not to put your through.” He had been almost a second father to her daughters and had been with her since the [WWI] the War.

 

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If you thought that fabled tampon conversation was the most embarrassing thing to come out of a royal affair, you ain’t seen nothing yet! David and Wallis wrote each other infantile letters (well, David mostly did). That a Field Marshall could write such drivel doesn’t shock me. I’ve read General of the Army [5 star general–US equivalent to a Field Marshall] Douglas MacArthur’s “Dimples/Daddy” letters to his mistress, “Dimples” which he signed “Daddy.” David had the mumps during puberty. It and the sycophants ruined him.

I left the royals take this chain over, but honestly? It’s what came to mind! I wish I could do a neat-and-tidy round up the chain into a circle, but….. 

 

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Why not join the fun next month? We’ll start out chains with Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield.

Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Confession time: I threw this book back. I couldn’t…I just couldn’t with it. What’s profound to some is vapid navel-gazing to others. Sorry, but I’m with the latter party.

So, my chain took real work!

Six Degrees of Separation

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Book One

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Another book I couldn’t stand and DNF-ed with “talking” in the title was Daniel Isn’t Talking Yet. I don’t want to read about anyone licking sweat from anyone’s butt-crack–or was it a tongue-bath?, let alone about someone licking someone’s eyeball (better than the other type of &al!s). Ick!! Daniel Isn’t Talking Yet by Marti Leimbach

Book Two

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On to a much better book–one with Daniel in the title. The fictionalized story of the Rosenbergs. Excellent book–highly recommended. If you don’t know, they were executed for being Soviet Spies. The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow.

Book Three

I’ve only seen the movie, so I’m going by it. Anther story of Americans spying for the USSR is The Falcon and the Snowman which I saw on a date with a future Foreign Service Officer…..

The Falcon and the Snowman by Robert Lindsey

The Falcon and the Snowman film

Book Four

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Another book with Snowman in the title is one I haven’t read, but I have watched the documentary about it. Snowman: The Story of A Champion by Catherine Hapka.

Book Five

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Another story of a champion horse is Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I loved both he book and Seabiscuit the film.

Book Six

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Another book I loved that is not about horses, but is written by a Laura is Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquirel.

I can’t say that I connected the chain to make a circle back to the starting book, but I did make a more original chain than I did last month!

You can read all of the Six Degrees of Separation rules and procedures at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Why not join the fun next month? We’ll start off with The End of the Affair by Graham Greene.

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Book Reviews

6 Degrees of Separation: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

The Six Degrees of Separation Rules:

On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

I haven’t read this one, but it has been on my TBR since it was published. Maybe this post will inspire me to finally get to it?

The Blurb:

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. (Amazon).

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Call me hopelessly unoriginal, but not only is The Great Gatsby a favorite of mine, it was the first book that came to mind. I choose the 1974 movie tie-in cover because that is the version I first read. It’s one of the first “classics” I read, too. It is the 1920’s version of New York Society.

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Another Long Island estate, this time in the 1950s, features in the play Sabrina Fair by Samuel A.Taylor as well as in its two film versions–both of which I like, though Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn are the best, and was one of my gateway stories of older men, younger women that made me love such stories. The Harrison Ford version gets the best line awad–“World’s only living heart donor.” Bogart is the 50’s version, Harrison Ford the 90’s.

 

 

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Jay Gatsby, Linus Larrabee, and now Newland Archer–New York Society, this time of an older generation–the Gilded Age. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

 

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Patrick Dennis did a superb send-up of Old Knickerbocker Society in the early 1960’s by telling it all in first person through the eyes of a 10 year old boy named Kerry. The family, of course, is his. This is a superb comedy of manners. I have read it annually since 1977 or so.  The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis.

 

Now my chain becomes weaker….

 

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I wanted to find a books for each decade that I’d read that had New York society.

I failed. A gap between Age of Innocence and The Great Gatsby, and another gap between Rules of Civility and Sabrina Fair.

So, next up is The Group by Mary McCarthy, another favorite of mine.  it just makes it to 1940–so I’m using it. (Lame, I know). Vassar girls, one of whom is from an Old New York society family, begin their lives after graduation. In the first generation of women who could go out to work this leads to some interesting situations. I’ve read this one a few times.

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I’m really stretching here–another 1930’s New York book and one that doesn’t really have a connection to society–aside from Marjorie wanting to be in the theater and society spends a ton of time at theaters. But, it is another book I love. Pictured is the cover of my copy–I can’t stand the horrible newest covers on Wouk’s books. (The newest cover on this book has a woman in a 1950s dress! Ugh). Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk.

I almost put this in–a double Redford chain! It has several 1940s scenes.

 

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Forgive me. Unemployment is playing havoc with my creativity.

 

Why not join the fun next month? Our chains will start with No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.

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Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

 

Finally! A book I’ve actually read. But I have no memory of it being an Edith Wharton! Go figure! Well, I did read it at one go [a lot of skimming, but still….] in a urologist’s waiting room many years ago. That’s probably why the memory lapse. I recall being really depressed after reading it. I clearly recall that.

Here’s the blurb:

The classic novel of despair, forbidden emotions, and sexual undercurrents set against the austere New England countryside. Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena’s vivacious cousin enters their household as a hired girl, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. ….Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies. 

I promised myself I would not use this chain to dredge up other depressing books. So, here goes….

My Chain

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I admit, this one starts off with a depressing note. We learn that Macon’s son, Ethan (the link to Ethan Frome) has died. But, the rest of the book is about working through grief and beginning life anew. It is possibly my favorite Anne Tyler. The Accidental Tourist

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While travel guide author Macon in an Accidental Tourist aims to make travel as much like being at home as possible, home is the last place Arthur Less wants to be right now. He travels, albeit without a guide as helpful as Macon’s to escape. Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Travel is one link; both authors having won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is another.

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Someone who could relate to how Arthur Less feels is Leslie Anne Green Carter–the last first/original wife in her social set. The rest have been replaced by newer, younger women in their husband’s beds and lives–just like poor Arthur. Leslie finally finds the life she wants. The Last Original Wife

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An original wife who put up with more husbandly shenanigans before finding a life she wanted was Eleanor Roosevelt. Loving Eleanor by 

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Enduring husbandly shenanigans was the watchword of women in Anne Glenconner’s titled world. Her husband moved on from the first day and the final insult was giving all of his worldly goods–the very same pledged to Anne on their wedding day, to a man who had worked for him on his private island. Anne had her very bed sold right out from under her! But, she’s hardly living on the British equivalent of a Social Security check. Still, I think there’s a special place in hell for her late husband. Lady In Waiting. 

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Finally, an older lady who has written a book and who could teach Lady Glenconner a thing or two about economizing to live on an actual OAP [Social Security check to us in the USA] is Marie Sharp. She’s not a dreary old bag, she’s lived her to the full, but facing 60 [like me] she’s making some changes, one of which will not be a book club membership! Her diary is well worth the read.

Not my best chain (nor my worst), but that’s all the band width I have right now for anything. Hope you enjoyed it. I may be a few days getting around to reading everyone else’s due to seasonal employment.

Join in the Six Degrees Fun next month!

How the meme works

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge. You can read all about it here at Books Are My Favorite and Best.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

In January we start with Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.