Six Degrees of Separation: Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar



6 Degrees of Separation is a book meme hosted by Books Are My Favorite and Best on the first Saturday of each month. Here’s how it 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 Story

Kitty Hawke, the last inhabitant of a dying island sinking into the wind-lashed Chesapeake Bay, has resigned herself to annihilation…

Until one night her granddaughter blows ashore in the midst of a storm, desperate, begging for sanctuary. For years, Kitty has kept herself to herself – with only the company of her wolfdog, Girl – unconcerned by the world outside, or perhaps avoiding its worst excesses. But blood cannot be turned away in times like these. And when trouble comes following her granddaughter, no one is more surprised than Kitty to find she will fight to save her as fiercely as her name suggests…

A richly imagined and mythic parable of home and kin that cements Lucy Treloar’s place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.

My Thoughts

This has already jangled some pet peeve nerves. “Kitty Hawke”? Seriously?? Stupid names put me off almost instantly. And Aussie writing a story set in Chesapapeke Baby Has she lived there? I couldn’t find anything that said she had. Is her husband/partner from there? Ditto. Hmmmmm


My Chain

I skipped the obvious pull towards Wright Brothers’ books and toward wolf books. Nothing wrong with the Wright Brothers of wolves.



I hated this book, but the Buddhist nun character sounded as out-there as Ms. Hawk in the Wolfe Island book, only weirder. Her great-granddaughter seeks a sort of sanctuary from the bullying at school. A Hello Kitty lunchbox full of mementos pulls another character back to the past. This book is odd, but it was the first that “clicked” in my thinking of a chain. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.


Another odd unusual person made eccentric and isolated by her circumstances apparently, [I haven’t yet read it] is the main character in the Persephone book Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd. The war-time Britain to which she returns after living so isolated is about as intelligible as HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would have been. (I’m hoping to buy this one soon for reading in the next Peresphone Read-Athon).


Poor Miss Raskin being washed overboard, combined with the grandchild & great-grandchild seeking sanctuary in the other books brought  The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman to mind. It features a reclusive couple who insist upon sanctuary for a baby who washed up from a shipwreck seemingly in answer to their prayers for a child. The put the ethical issues of keeping the child into a special mental compartment and go on with life. The child is safe, loved, and “theirs.” Another isolated couple had their prayers for a child answered differently–with a Snow Child, but that story didn’t really fit here as well. I’m including it just in case anyone has missed it. It’s lovely and wonderful.



Next to mind was The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. It was read aloud to us by my 6th-grade teacher. I remember thinking how utterly alone this poor guy was–possibly my first “mature” thought about a book. That loneliness has always echoed through Hemingway’s writing for me. Here is a lonely man, alone against a fish. No sanctuary for him–not in his mind or soul, until he gets that fish.




Next to mind was a book about taking to the sea to seek sanctuary. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea is one young woman’s powerful refugee story, taking her from Syria to Europe the hardest way possible. There were many times when young Doaa would have been safer alone. (These two books came to mind with this one–all 3 are on the same crisis).


Escaping the wolves of communism and finding sanctuary 90 miles away is the theme of two books about the same family, as well as the theme of the forthcoming book in the series, by Chanel Cleeton. The first book, Next Year in Havana tells the story of the family’s prepared to leave–the coming to power of Castro, the loss of the father’s companies, the involvement of a daughter with a freedom fighter, etc. The second book, When We Left Cuba, tells of their new life in Miami, and the continued work of one to liberate Cuba. The new book, coming in June is The Last Train to Key West. So, those political wolves being on an island, we could re-christen Cuba as Lobo (Masculine Wolf) Island, bringing us full circle.



Kitty Hawk–idiotic name. Here’s the best Wright Brother’s book I’ve read:


The Wright Brothers by the ever-wonderful David McCullogh. It all took flight at Kitty Hawk. My recommended book for the must-read book of 2016.



One of the best nature books on wolves by Canada’s fabulous Farey Mowatt, Never Cry Wolf.


To participate in 6 Degrees of Separation each month go to the Rules and then on the first Saturday of the month post your link in this list.


Six Degrees of Separation: Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner



This month’s starting book is



I haven’t read this one, so here is part of the Amazon blurb:

“Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.

My Chain


The first book that came to mind was one of a husband’s treachery. The wife is always the last to know, right? Just deserts await. Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan.  Link to my review.




Of course, there are even worse Dad’s out there. After all, Tara lived to tell her story. I chose Educated to tell how badly a Dad’s craziness can impact the family making everyone wish for a divorce. Educated by Tara Westover [I did not review this book because I never finished reading it. It didn’t shock me–I’ve studied religious cults who do even worse].



Combining father [figure] and education and [imagined] abuse brought me next to the Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene. Link to my review.




Next to mind came Fathermothergod: My Journey out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse. A father and husband who leaves his wife to die before her children inch by inch in the name of faith.



I truly HATE this new cover, by the way

My fifth book came to mind from both the first book and the fourth. Here is a wife from a failed marriage who must step-up and help her ex-husband when ALS strikes. Every Note Played by Lisa Genova. Link to my review.




Alice wakes up to find herself 10 years older than she remembers being. She had been 29, happily married and expecting her first child. Now she’s 39, has three kids, and her marriage is falling apart. How did she get here?  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Link to my review.



You can read the rules for 6 Degrees of Separation here. Why not join in next month?


Six Degrees of Separation: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


I’m Lisa and I’m an Alice-hater. There, I’ve said it. Weight of the world off my shoulders. So, that makes this month’s chain of 6 Degrees of Separation books just a bit more interesting, wouldn’t you say? bwahahaha!


Brief history lesson before we start


Prince Leopold, the youngest and hemophiliac son of Queen Victoria, named his daughter “Alice” for Alice Liddell who inspired Alice’s Adventures–she was the daughter of Lewis Carroll’s friend, you see. If I remember correctly, Princess Alice was the longest-lived of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren and one of the longest-lived British royals. Her brother was the Nazi Uncle no one wants to remember today, Charles Edward. She was known for going to her winter home by banana boat! Her husband was the most forgettable Governor-General in Canada’s history, though her relatives (her mother’s family) included the Dutch Royal Family, whom Alice took in at Rideau Hall in Canada when they initially fled the Nazis after the invasion of the Netherlands. Her memoirs are interesting, but sadly reflect the racism and phobias of their time (no mention is made of her father’s hemophilia). There. I’ve redeemed my dislike of this month’s book by educating everyone! [And, that sums up my interest in Alice’s Adventures and most things Lewis Carroll.]

I expect my chain will be about as odd as tiresome little Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were to me.


My Chain

  1. The Beatles Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds period

True, these are movies and albums, not books, but they ARE what first comes to my mind when I hear of the dreaded Alice. Both the song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and I Am the Walrus make me think they come straight from the dreaded Alice.

2. Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolf



My brain next brought up drinking the Kool-Aid, albeit not in Guyana with Jim Jones. Instead, I thought of the original Kool-Aid–Tom Wolfe’s book telling the tale of a grown-up adventure made psychedelic by using the drug LSD. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, bratty little Alice! (I have only read excerpts from this book.)

Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolf


3. On The Road by Jack Kerouac



Yes, I know, this is not THE version of the book. But the cover was the coolest.

That groovy trip in the Patridge-family bus’s even cooler cousin-bus brought to mind THE road trip that inspired nearly all trippin’ road trips–On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I think Lewis Carroll would have liked this book. (I’ve only read excerpts). They didn’t even have Dorritos back then and nobody said “Dude….” so he has to be a great storyteller. It has since earned a reputation as one of the original pieces of radical or “Beat” literature. Beat that, hair-band girl Alice.

You can listen to it here so maybe I’ll finish it eventually.

4.  The Universe of Peter Max by Peter Max


All of this groovy stuff, road trips, LSD, make love not war, brought to mind Peter Max’s bright works could be pulled straight from ever-loathed Aliceland. This is the best-looking book of his art I could find. (I have not seen it).

The Universe of Peter Max by Peter Max

5. A Thurber Carnival by James Thurber


Whiplash, right? You are lost now, I’m sure. The Beatles, beatniks, drugs, psychedelic road trips–ok. But James Thurber? What? Well folks, according to ever-reliable Wikipedia, Thurber’s phenomenal creativity may have owed something to a syndrome that caused hallucinations! So, no off-brand mushrooms or strange green plants or funky kool-aid and Doritos needed for him to be creative and imagine worlds icky-Alice couldn’t even fathom! tapocketapocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa at you Alice!


6. Tommy a Rock Opera and Me: Elton John by Elton John


What could be more vivid than Elton in the early 70s? Vivid imagination? Check. Vivid Scenes created [albeit in music]? Check. Vivid clothing and glasses? Check. Vivid personality? Double-check. Like the Beatles albums and films I started with, Tommy brings me to detestable Alice every time. And who could be more vivid a personality than Elton, at least now that Liberace is dead? I haven’t yet read Me, his new memoir, aside from the parts the Daily Mail serialized, but it is well-know that Elton’s creativity was long enhanced by drugs. His imagination, though, has proved it can still churn out amazing song-stories even when he is still in full Rehab Grad mode.

Bringing this trip full circle

What’s more, Elton John is friends with today’s Royal Family–he was the singer at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party and then, of course, and at Diana’s funeral.  Well, it so happens the Queen is old Prince Leopold’s great-great-niece (Prince Philip is his gr-gr-nephew, but thru a different sibling of Leo’s–there were nine children in Victoria’s family) AND Leopold’s daughter, is not only some version of cousin but is Queen Elizabeth’s great-aunt-by-marriage because she married Queen Mary’s brother, Algy (Prince Alexander George of Teck).

So, there. Back where we started with Prince Leopold naming his daughter for the Alice who inspired it all.

Me: Elton John by Elton John



Kaleidescope Designs and kalediescopes


If I had real money, I’d collect kaleidoscopes! They remind me of ever-annoying Alice in a good way! Maybe Disney put kaleidoscope images in the cartoon? (I saw it in the 1960s and allowed it home from the library ONCE for my kids, so don’t really remember much) I actually own the model kaleidoscope shown here. It’s beautiful. It kept my son happy for nearly an hour! A record until video games.

A final note:

Disney’s dreadful Alice brought us memorable cartoon figures including the Chesire Cat. Disney’s Chesire Cat always brings to mind Theodore Roosevelt. See what you think:


See? No questions please on the source of my creativity or boost to same! I’m not into any of that, thanks.


Want to join the fun? Go read the rules at Books are My Favorite and Best. Next month’s chains will start with





Six Degrees of Separation: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation chain begins with the new bestseller, Three Women, which I have not read. It is hyperbolically described as the “deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written” (Amazon).  I haven’t read it and have no plans to do so.

The book is nonfiction, a collection of essays on the sexual dysfuction, sexual satisifaction, whatever, of three women–the first two in the never-positively mentinoed states of Indiana and North Dakota–a bored housewife in a dead marriage, a 17 year-old high school student who wants her English teacher. The woman in cool Northeast blue state land, naturally, has the most ‘out-there’ sex life (I won’t bore you with the ick-factor of it). Ok, then…..

My Chain

This first brought to mind one of the two classics to emerge from my college town–actually it is a multiple volume report, but I’m showing only one volume and counting all the volumes as one title.


I DID read parts of these reports way back when in college. My Mom lived in the town at the time it came out so that made it more interesting. Plus my parents had given us the 70’s take on it--Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, so lets say I had a lot to sort out. TMI? Well, it sure was for me at 13!! But Kinsey, whose Institue is located on the campus of my alma mater, Indiana University, interviewed countless people about their intimate lives. It was titillating reading, but not great literature.

This made me segue to the other big book that came out the year Kinsey’s first volume appeared. It was also from my college town and was written by my great-uncle’s (artist Edwin Fulwider) best friend, Ross Lockridge. I have read it and found it disturbing, often boring, at times incoherent. Sadly, the author’s depression caught up with him and the poor man took his own life. Raintree County, by Ross Lockridge, is my second book.


After that little detour, my mind went back to the Three Women. What did they have in common? Not much except all could get pregnant.

That led me to the current bestseller (that I also have not read) The Farm: A Novel, by Joanne Ramos, in which women live at a surrogate mother “farm” (I’m sure there’s more to it than that!). I really like the cover, for what that’s worth. [It also brought to mind an extra book, A River of Stars, set initially in a home for Chinese mothers birthing anchor babies in the USA).


The Farm made me think of a book that’s been on my TBR for too long, Never Let Me Go by Kazu Ishiguro. The word “dystopian” is used to describe this book about clones raised for the organs, so that’s likely why I keep putting it off. Dystopian and I are not great friends.


All this breeding made me think of another sort “breed”–In This House of Brede by Rumor Godden, a book I have read and loved.


Finally, all those nuns brought to mind the DH Lawrence book, Women in Love, for the title only. I’ve read it and enjoyed it and it was the first movie I saw in college saw that sort of ties it to the first two titles as well.


You can read all of this month’s chains at Books Are My Favorite and Best.

November’s Chains start with Alice in Wonderland–a book I happen to dislike.



6 Degrees of Separation: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow should be exactly the book for me, but….it put me to sleep. There, I’ve admitted it. It’s good to come clean with secrets like this, isn’t it? So, this month’s chain of books somehow connected to it will involve a lot of free association or be based on the part of the book I made it through. Fair warning, now let us begin.

The Chain

Gorky Park by  Martin Cruz Smith


First up is Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith, a novel I read when it came out. I was the pursing my degree in political science and Russian/East European studies back in the early 1980s, so it was very timely. Friends and I joked about the washing machine that could only handle multiple pairs of underpants. Gorky Park itself isn’t far from the Hotel Metropol where the Gentleman in Moscow takes place.

The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia by Ludmilla Petrushevskay


This one was supposedly at the Metropol, only most of it wasn’t. My review. I wasn’t overly impressed with this–perhaps because of all the stories of Soviet life I’ve read.

The Red Daughter by John Burham Schwartz


Who but Stalin’s daughter could be more interesting than the Metropol itself? [Ok, I needed a clever statement, right?] Unfortunately my time ran out before I finished reading this one. I hope to finish it another time, but I am afraid all of the authors books pale for me in comparison to The Commoner. After All, Loving Frank, a book I can’t recommend often enough,  about Frank Lloyd Right, is tied to this one by the Taliesin chapters. [The extra books are just extra–not really in the chain.]

Mothers and Daughters: Elana Bonner


A family whose life was stood on end by Stalin and subsequent Soviet governments was that of dissident Andrei Sakharov. I studied all the great dissidents in college, and found their personal stories very compelling. But Sakharov and Bonner married later in life, so this is mostly her childhood story. She began in great Communist privilidge only to have it all taken away.

The Russians by Hendrik Smith [original version]


Back in the 70s as Detente had us all a-buzz, few Westerners had visited the USSR, let alone lived there. Unless, that is, they were diplomats or journalists. Smith was a journalist. He made this scary place a lot more human. This is another book I read in college.

An American Family in Moscow by Leona and Jerrold Schecter


Before the Smiths, the Schecters were in Moscow in 1968 with their large family–a family that recevied two apartments they were so large with 5 children! Their kids atteneded Soviet Schools–an amazing idea at the time. From this book I decided the USSR was not as fearson as we imagined–to have an item dry-cleaned you first had to remove all the buttons! How fearsome could such a place be? I devoured this book in college, though it was already a bit dated. Many years later they all returned and filmed their reunions with school teachers and the like. This book is fairly hard to find now at reasonable prices, which is a shame.

That’s my chain–really more topical this time, than “connections,” but…..

Why not join in next month? Go to Booksaremyfavoriteandbest for the rules. The starting book will be Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.



Six Degrees of Separation: The Dry by Jane Harper



Amazon blurb:

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets. (link)

The Dry: A Novel by Jane Harper

I haven’t read this book yet, but would like to. It sounds fascinating. This month’s chain was developed thru something like free association therapy! When you haven’t read the book you must use first thoughts or first impressions to build the chain.

The Chain

1. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler


Four guys return to their hometown for a wedding. One has hit the big time like John Mellencamp once did from his Small Town.

Shotgun Lovesongs

My review is here

2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


Louis Zamperini faced the worst torment of all: Being thirsty and surrounded by undrinkable water–a weird type of drought.


3. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Eagan


Drought, erosion, environmental and economic destruction in the America of the Great Depression. This drought murdered many a hometown and took farming methods as it’s alibi.

The Worst Hard Time

4. Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough


The opposite of draught is “the wet” and it has a great place in the story at the start of Meggie’s adult years.

Thorn Birds.

5. Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver


Taylor and Turle will always have a bit of mystery surrounding their relationship and they start their life together heading to Arizona–about as dry a place as you can find. Bean Trees

6. The Big Chill [movie]


College friends from the 60s hit middle-age, sell-out and justify themselves at the funeral of a friend. An all-time favorite of mine.

The Big Chill

June’s Book

Next month’s title is a brand new novel based on Alan Turing called Murmur.


You are welcome to join in 6 Degrees each month!

Go to Books are My Favorite and Best for the rules.



Six Degrees of Separation: How To Be Both by Ali Smith


First, apologies for the late post! I forgot it was Six Degrees week, due to #Deweys24HourReadathon!

Second, I’ve never heard of this book! So, with that in mind, here is this month’s Six Degrees of Separation chain!

From Amazon:
How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real—and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

Who says stories reach everybody in the same order?
This novel can be read in two ways, and the eBook provides you with both. You can choose which way to read the novel by simply clicking on one of two icons—CAMERA or EYES. The text is exactly the same in both versions; the narratives are just in a different order.

The ebook is produced this way so that readers can randomly have different experiences reading the same text. So, depending on which icon you select, the book will read: EYES, CAMERA, or CAMERA, EYES. (Your friend may be reading it the other way around.) Enjoy the adventure.


I’m not sure I can process that blub, so I’ll go with what I did understand.


#1 Name of the Rose by Umberto Echo


Call it “free association,” this is the first book that popped into my head as I read the blub on How to Be Both. Odd since it is before the Renaissance and before the 1960s. I read this one when it came out and was fascinated. Name of the Rose by Umberto Echo


#2 By the Grand Canal: A Novel byWilliam Riviere




Utter the word “Renaissance” and for whatever reason, I think “Venice.” By the Grand Canal: A Novel by William Riviere. My review is here.

#3 Just Kids by Patti Smith


Although I haven’t read this one, how much more “60’s kid” could you get, right? I did watch, and “enjoy” [not really the word] the Doors movie when it came out and I can remember “Come on Baby Light My Fire,” on the radio. Just Kids by Patti Smith.


#4 Stingray Afternoons by Steve Rushin


I still haven’t read this one, but the cover IS my childhood in the 1960s. Everyone had these bikes. That could be my kindergarten/first grade bud, Jimmy on that bike! Sting-Ray Afternoons by Steve Rushin.


#5 Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders



Who says stories reach everybody in the same order?”  Indeed–I’m still processing this mess of a story! Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. My review is here.  My Six Degrees post of Lincoln in the Bardo is here.

#6 Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams



Lincoln leads me then to the other over-hyped book I really couldn’t stand–even in the “superb” audio version. Due to the many friends who recommended it whole-heartedly, I suffered through it to the very end. Maybe it was Stephen Fry’s reading? No….. Hitchhiker’s Gudie to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.


Final Note

This was one of the hardest chains I’ve done! Having not read the book (it is not a requirement for participation) and not really being able to understand all that Amazon wrote about stories in order, etc., I struggled up hill the whole way!


Next Month’s Book



The Dry: A Novel by Jane Harper


Want to participate in Six Degrees of Separation? Read here.


Six Degrees of Separation: The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper


The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire by Chloe Hooper

Australian thriller The Arsonist is this month’s starting point. You can click the link above to read the publisher’s blurb or click here to read the review by Six Degrees hostess, Books Are My Favorite and Best.

My first thought–I want to read this book!! It instantly brought to mind a few books, which was very helpful so I didn’t just go off into similar title-land.

1. Columbine by Dave Cullen


From the sound of The Arsonist, I imagine it would be gripping–the way true crime should be. There should be false leads, random rabbitt trails, heroic personalities as well as unsung heros. That first-and-foremost brought to mine Dave Cullen’s intensley readable investigation into the horrific Columbine shooting.

2. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver


I couldn’t list Columbine without it’s equally horrific fictional twin–We Need to Talk About Kevin. This time the weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Never mind. Just as awful as are many of the details in the story.

3. Devil in the White City by Erik Lorson


The third book that came instantly to mind was about the Chicago Columbia Exhibition of 1893 and the murder Daniel Burnham and sick-o pharmacists H.H. Holmes. I found this book “too much” for me and didn’t finish it–the only one of Larson’s to have that effect on me.

4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck


This book gave me actual nightmares so I had to quit reading it. I hated that–it was THAT well written, but I couldn’t deal with Cathy Ames a minute longer! The writing made me see why Steinbeck is regarded as so great. Sadly, The Grapes of Wrath being force-fed in high school left me wondering how he could be seen as so superb!

5. Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford


The World’s Fair ties this one to Devil in the White City [The Columbia Exhibition was a World’s Fair] and prostitution ties it to East of Eden. Also like Devil in the White City, this is my least favorite of Ford’s marvelous books (it is excellent–the story just didn’t appeal to me as much).

6. Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins


This story, of a young offender, shows how lives can change for the better when a sincere Christian reaches out. This books ties to Love and Other Consolation Prizes because the Christian involved in Ernest’s life was self-serving and judgemental. I was asked to read this book by a young offender who saw himself in the story.

Sadly, the Arsonist brought another wildfire, started almost as stupidly, to mind: The gender reveal stunt that sparked the Arizona wildfire in 2018.



Six Degrees of Separation: Where Am I Now?




This month’s 6 Degrees of Separation book had me almost skip the meme. I had to research who the author was for starters. Then, after learning she was a celebrity, I had to talk myself into going forward witih it anyway.

Mara Wilson–According to Amazon

“A former child actor best known for her starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and out of place: as the only kid on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, a Valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and a grown-up the world still remembers as a little girl. Tackling everything from what she learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to discovering in adolescence that she was no longer “cute” enough for Hollywood, these essays chart her journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. They also illuminate universal struggles, like navigating love and loss, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Candid, insightful, moving, and hilarious, Where Am I Now? introduces Mara Wilson as a brilliant new chronicler of the experience that is growing up female.”

Now had the book been by or about (or both!) NPR’s Mara Liasson–well, let’s just say that would have perked me up a whole lot!


This Month’s Chain


Here’s how I developed this chain. I pulled phrases from the description above–and one phrase elsewhere on the Amazon page for the book.


A grown-up the world still remembers as a little girl



Before she was mother to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and before she designed the jeans for a generation, Gloria Vanderbilt was the subject of a sensational custody war that made millions for the tabloids of the day. A same-sex affairs was among the most salacious and, in that day, damning, details of the case.

Gloria fascinates me because of her unusual ties to the Royal Family. After Gloria’s father, Reggie Vanderbilt, died, her mother was briefly engaged to Prince Gotfried of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. After they broke it off, Gotfried married Prince Philip’s oldest sister, Princess Margarita of Greece.  Gloria’s Mummy then went on to have an affair with Philip’s Aunt Nada (married to his Uncle George Mountbatten, the Marquess of Milford Haven). But wait, there’s more! Her mother’s twin sister was the “in between” mistress of The Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) arriving in his life at the end of his long-term relationship with Freda Dudley Ward. Thelma (Gloria’s aunt) then introudced “The Little Man,” as she discreetly called the Prince, to Wallis Simpson.  Poor Thelma, surely not so happy at last.  Little Gloria, Happy at Last is out-of-print but widely available used.


A little young and out of place




Ultimately, I chose Ruby Bridges–the first African American girl to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. Though she was not the first African American student to integrate a public school, she was one of the youngest and most memorable. Who hasn’t seen this photo and had at catch in their throat from it’s poignancy? I chose her memoir, Through My Eyes,  as the book selection.

This one was tough. My mind raced! Do I pick Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Harry was a little young and, though he clearly belonged he was out-of-place at first. I then thought of Princess Diana–like Harry she clearly belonged having been born to an Earl living on the Queen’s private estate, but she very out-of-place at first, too. Then I thought of poor Rosemary Kennedy when she and younger, perfect sister Kathleen “Kick” arrived in London and were presented to King George VI. I also pictured Amy Carter at age 10 or so reading a book at a White House State Dinner. Not much you could say but a little young and a little out-of-place. Probably Baron Trump feels that way some days, too.


[Not] “cute” enough



The summer I was 14 my grandmother took me to the U.K. Part of my coming up age was seeing A Chorus Line–then a smash hit–in London’s West End.  This verse in the  song, At The Ballet, was why–surely Marvin Hamlisch wrote it just for me, right?

Mother always said I’d be very attractive
When I grew up, when I grew up
“Different,” she said, “With a special something
And a very, very personal flair.”
And though I was eight or nine
Though I was eight or nine
Though I was eight or nine
I hated her

Now, “different” is nice, but it sure isn’t pretty
“Pretty” is what it’s about
I never met anyone who was “different”
Who couldn’t figure that out
So beautiful I’d never lived to see
But it was clear
If not to her
Well, then to me

Everyone is beautiful at the ballet
Every prince has got to have his swan
Yes, everyone is beautiful at the ballet

A Chorus Line book of the musical.  See the bottom of this post for the video of the song.

Figuring out who you are and where you belong


My first English class in college, sneakily picked for me by my mom because the whole course schedule completely overwhelmed me–and I’m so glad it did, for that class was magical. The perfect start to college. Stop Time has stayed with me. Frank’s journey to manhood was really something, but it was also beautifully told. That the author loved jazz didn’t hurt anything. Stop Time. Read it–it’s part Glass Castle, part Educated, part Catcher in the Rye. In fact, since Frank is the only man in this list, I considered using the Glass Castle or Educated instead. But Stop Time is a part of me in a way that the other two books just aren’t.


Growing up, I wanted to be Mara Wilson ________





I always said in high school that I wanted to be a writer like Herman Wouk and a diplomat of “Henry Kissinger’s status”.  Henry Kissinger was the only diplomat most people could name in those years. That was 40 years ago. So, I chose Madeline Albright’s memoir instead of Kissinger’s.

Sidebar: I also wanted to live in a cute apartment like Mary Tyler Moore had on TV or like author Helene Hanff probably lived in (my Mom found Helene’s books for me, too). I’d have my books on display as well as a few other things. See that cool little shelf of books? Love that.


Growing up female



When I first begin to “grow up” [wink, wink] my Mom found this book for me. It may have been my gateway epistolary novel–a book told as a diary. This one was perfect for me at that moment. My idolized big brother was growing up and away from me and life was starting to change me from a tom boy into a young woman, a process made easier by many more books–lots from my Mom. (Which is why I’ve always been heartbroken that my daughter just won’t read).  I’m not sure if this one is still in print, but it is still worth it if you find it used. Diary of a Frantic Kid Sister.


You can enjoy all of this month’s Six Degrees of Separation chains at the host blog, Books Are My Favorite and Best.



At The Ballet


Six Degrees of Separation: Atonement by Ian McEwan



This month’s book to start a Six Degrees of Separation chain is Atonement by Ian Mc Ewan. I confess I have not read this one [yet]. It’s been on my mental to read list since it was published. I should just read it! I loved his recent book The Children Act. [You can read my review of it HERE or read HERE the actors I would cast for the movie version.] But Atonement, though unread, conjures up thoughts of other books–most also unread!


#1 Corelli’s Mandolin: A Novel by Louis de Bernieres


I actually own a copy of this book and have, on two occasions, picked it up and got as far in as the second chapter before becoming distracted and forgetting about it. I believe Hugh Grant was seen reading it in a film–that may be why it became so popular for a while back in the dark ages of my (and Hugh’s) early adulthood. It is one of those books that instantly comes to mind whenever Atonement is mentioned. In my mind both have “that” sort of prose. I’m probably wrong about that. No matter. It’s my chain!


#2 The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie


The Satanic Verses caused a sensation in the pre-Internet world of the late ’80s. I recall bringing a copy home from the library, spending a few minutes starting to read it and then remembering Dallas was starting on tv.  This book has nothing to do with the time or setting of Atonement, but it always comes to mind when Atonement is mentioned. It was very popular with my fellow Peace Corps volunteers, too.


#3 Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez



Atonement always seems to be a great title for Gabriel Barcia Marquez to use. This is the book of his that comes to mind when I hear Atonement mentioned. I truly want to read Love in the Time of Cholera and will get to it eventually.


#4 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro



Never Let Me Go mirrors the sort of school the upper-class characters in Atonement would have atteneded. I’ve read Remains of the Day by Ishiguro, but I’m not really sure Never Let Me Go will ever make it to my to-read list.

#5 The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee



At the moment I’m not sure where my copy of this book is, but I can say I got much farther into it before it disappeared than I ever did with the Satanic Verses or Corelli’s Mandolin! This one comes to mind because a character will certainly have something to “atone” for!

The ONE I’ve Actually Read


#6 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje


This one I finally read (listened to) recently. It cemented in my mind the idea of the prose of Atonement matchingg tthe style of this book. I’m probably wrong.


You can join in Six Degrees of Separation on the first Saturday of each month. View the rules at the top of this post, then go to the blog Books Are My Favorite and Best to post your link–or to read all of this month’s great book chains.