Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Kate at Books are My Favourite and Best. Inspired by the concept of ‘six degrees of separation’, originally set out in a short story by Frigyes Karinthy, which suggests that any two people in the world are connected through a chain of six or fewer people, the meme brings this concept into the world of books. Each month, beginning with a starter book that Kate selects (the month previously), every participant creates their own unique chain of books. Each book only needs to be linked to the next one in the chain, and one doesn’t need to have read the starter book either. Share your links on Kate’s page and have fun exploring the different chains other bloggers have created!

The starter book that Kate has picked for us this month is Trust (2022) by Hernan Diaz, a book I’d like to read but haven’t yet. This is a book about Benjamin and Helen Rask, he a legendary Wall Street tycoon and she the brilliant daughter of eccentric aristocrats, who’ve together risen to the top of the world of seemingly endless wealth. But success also gives rise to gossip, about his market manoeuvres and her reclusiveness. A book with many layers, the story engages the reader in a quest for truth while confronting the pull of money and power.

It is from the themes of trust, money and power that I take my first link, The Appeal (2008) by John Grisham which once deals with just these issues. A successful law suit against a multimillion dollar chemical company for dumping toxic waste into a town’s water supply results in an appeal. The company uses their money and power to manipulate the system thus that judicial elections will result in a favoured candidate being on the bench when they need him. After having read and enjoyed plenty of Grisham books, I’d gone off his books for a while till I reed this one which drew me in once again. This may seem exaggerated in its plot, yet not soon after I’d read this book, I happened to read an article in the journal Judicature which detailed real life scenarios pretty much paralleling this.

Another author who’s recently written a book titled The Appeal is Janice Hallett but a book by her which I really want to read (the first of two TBR entries this time in my chain), is The Twyford Code (2022). Steven Smith finds a copy of a famous children’s book by Edith Twyford with strange markings and annotations and discusses it with his teacher Miss Isles who is convinced this is a puzzle. Then Miss Isles disappears and Steven’s memory doesn’t allow him to remember what happened. Now, 40 years later, Steven is just out of prison and decides to solve the mystery behind Miss Isles’ disappearance and the Twyford Code!

For the next link, I will take the obvious route. Edith Twyford in the Twyford Code is based on Enid Blyton, and the book it involves is something like the Famous Five, but while I am moving on to Blyton, the book I pick is from the Five Findouters series. The Mystery of Holly Lane (1953) is one of my favourites of these for its rather clever solution. An old, nearly blind man in Holly Lane has hidden his money carefully in his cottage. Yet he is robbed, and the very next day, all his furniture is stolen as well. The Five Findouters and dog get on the case and in a race against PC Goon to solve it. This one involves plenty of food, disguises and lots of fun.

Holly of course reminds one of Christmas, and so my next link is Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938) also published as A Holiday for Murder (which is the version I have). The wealthy (and not very likeable) Simeon Lee orders all his sons and their spouses to come home for Christmas. But celebration is not what he has in mind for he insults, humiliates and then cuts them out of his will. Soon after, he is murdered and Poirot is called in to investigate.

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, besides his sons, Simeon Lee also invites his Spanish born granddaughter Pilar Estravados to his Christmas ‘celebration’. A real life, Pilar, Pilar Quintana is the author of my next pick (also on the TBR but this one I’ll be reviewing in the coming week), Abyss (2021). Claudia, an eight-year-old watches on as her hardworking father who hardly speaks, and her unhappy mother who spends her days reading celebrity magazines carry on in their lives but an interloper arrives who disturbs this odd balance and sends her world into turmoil.

Abyss is about a marriage that falls apart. Another book about not one but two marriages that don’t turn out as expected is George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1872). Nineteen-year-old, idealistic Dorothea Brooke marries the much older scholar Mr Casaubon dreaming of helping him achieve great pursuits and doing something worthwhile in the process only to discover that not only is Casaubon’s work not worth much, he becomes increasingly jealous and insecure. Alongside, the idealistic doctor Tertius Lydgate marries the beautiful Rosamund Vincy who expects wealth and social status, leading to an estrangement between the two. While the book deals with a range of issues including education, women’s role and politics, marriage is a central theme as well.

So that’s my chain this month, which took me from a book about a marriage, power and wealth in the 1920s, to power and wealth manipulating a basic organ of government, to a mystery involving a children’s book, to a children’s book by the author who inspired it, a cantankerous and nasty old millionaire who is murdered at Christmas to a marriage breaking down viewed through the eyes of a child, and finally vaguely full circle, a book about among other things, marriage (even if gone wrong). Where did your chains take you this month?


16 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Trust to Middlemarch (February 2023)

  1. Apart from Middlemarch, I’ve read none of these – no, not even the Enid Blyton. I quite enjoyed Hallett’s The Appeal, but haven’t been tempted into reading more in a similar format. An interesting chain!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read all of the Five Findouters books as a child, but I can barely remember The Mystery of Holly Lane so it probably wasn’t one of my favourites. I loved The Twyford Code and am hoping to read Janice Hallett’s The Appeal soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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