Tuesday 4 October 2016

Six Degrees of Separation

How do I get from a book about September 11 to a comfort read?

That's the wonder of Six Degrees of Separation.

The starting book this month is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud is one of those books that I have never got around to reading, even though we did watch the movie with the boys. We found it to be extremely moving and incredibly thought-provoking (see what I did there?)

Another book that was made into a movie that we watched with the boys and found extremely beautiful and incredibly disturbing, but that I have never got around to reading is The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Unlike Extremely Loud though, I have tried to read The Life of Pi a few times, but I have never been able to get past the first few pages. It simply hasn't drawn me in enough to want to continue.

Another big selling, well-known Australian book that I have never been able to get beyond the first couple of pages is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.

The Slap is set in a suburban backyard, with a BBQ, several families with young children AND an incident. The moral and social dilemma's that unfold sound interesting, but I baulk at it every time.

When I first read the blurb for Liane Moriarty's latest book, Truly Madly Guilty, I thought 'uh-oh! It's another Slap.'

Although Truly Madly Guilty is also about a suburban backyard, with a BBQ, several families with young children AND an incident, the two writing styles, ways and means are so very different, that it's impossible to compare.

However there are two books, written decades apart, that you can compare and be genuinely astounded by their similar stories, characters, ways and means.

One is Colleen McCullough's The Ladies of Missalonghi and the other one, that many people believe that McCullough plagerised or at least forgot that she had read as a child & reused the storyline, was L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle.

Both stories feature a young woman living in stricken circumstances, with a bizarre health issue, a strange new man to town, an odd proposal, deceit and an unlikely romance. I have found myself curiously drawn to both versions over the years and consider both to be a rainy Sunday comfort read.

Another one of my favourite rainy Sunday comfort reads might be considered a curious choice by some. It's a near-future, end of the world, back to nature, coming of age story called Into the Forest by Jean Hegland.

There is something so utterly compelling and mesmerising about this story about two sisters left to fend for themselves that I usually read it in one binge-reading session late into the night!

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best.
Next month the starting book will be Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Are you game?


  1. The Life of Pi and The Blue Castle are the books you've mentioned that are familiar to me. The latter I really loved. It really is a cozy novel for rainy days, isn't it? I've never felt any inclination to read The Life of Pi, though. It threatens a philosophy that will likely leave me exasperated.

    How exactly is The Ladies of Missolonghi? I've read a couple of McCullough, and like her writing. However, the last of her books I read was The Independence of Mary Bennet, and I was so disappointed at the ridiculousness of the whole plot and the characterisation. The one I read before that was Caesar's Women which I throughly enjoyed.

    1. If you've read & enjoyed The Blue Castle, then I feel sure that you read and enjoy The Ladies of Missalonghi. One is set in Canada, one in Australia, but they are very very similar.

      I also enjoyed McCullough's Roman series, although I was reading them as she wrote them, & I stopped after about the fourth book. Thorns Birds annoyed me from start to finish, I failed to find the romance in it at all as a teenager.

      The philosophical conundrum at the end of the Life of Pi is one we still discuss with the boys. But I believe the movie version left it a little more open ended than the book did....but I will probably never know that for sure :-)

  2. I love your links here, Brona, although I've never heard of Slap or the The Ladies of Missalonghi. It's too bad that the beginning of The Life of Pi couldn't grab you. It really is such an excellent book.


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