Six Degrees of Separation – from Year of Wonders to The Muse


It’s time for #6Degrees – join in! Link up!

We begin the chain with an international best-selling debut that thrilled fans of historical fiction (and everyone else) when it was published in 2001 – Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

Brooks acted as a mentor to an author whose debut also became an international best-seller – Hannah Kent. Kent’s much-anticipated second novel, The Good People, is due for release in September. Can’t wait.

The main character in The Good People is Irish widow, Nora Leahy. The obvious link here is to another Irish widow, Nora Webster (by Colm Toibin).

Nora Webster is what I call ‘Irish-misery-porn’. A Goodreads friend credits me with coining this phrase (I’m quite sure I didn’t) but anyway, I was reminded of it this week when I was reading Dominic Smith’s The Last Painting of Sara de Vos and wondering if ‘art thriller’ was a genre. I like niche genres.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos features two important historical events – the Plague (note the link back to Year of Wonders) and the ‘tulip fever’ that took over The Netherlands. Many years ago, I read a fascinating book about the tulip trade, Tulipmania by Mike Dash.

Tulipmania is focused on Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, as is Jessie Burton’s charming and insanely successful debut, The Miniaturist.

Burton’s second book, The Muse, has just been released. I can’t wait to read it, particularly because it appears to be an ‘art thriller’…

Best-selling debuts and much-anticipated sophomore novels, Amsterdam, the Plague, widows and art-thrillers – it’s more like a web this month than a chain! I wonder where other chains will lead?

Next month (September 3rd, 2016) the chain will begin with the controversial best-seller by V. C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic*

*thanks to Rory for this suggestion. I’m confident that everyone who was reading during the eighties read Flowers in the Attic!

38 responses

  1. I’ve missed these for the last few months – something odd going on with my feedreader I think. I’ve never done a 6 degrees myself but you got me thinking about this one. It must take a long time to put together?

  2. Love your chain. I was really struggling with getting my chain started this month, and then it went in a completely different direction that I expected. (There are zombies!) Also, I must say, I highly approve of the choice of starting book for next month.

    • I always find the first link takes the most thought, then it’s like a domino-effect from there.
      And yes, I think there will be some interesting chains with Flowers as the starting point.

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  5. A great selection I didn’t realise A Year of Wonder was published quite so long ago – I loved that book so much! I’m very pleased I visited because I didn’t realise Hannah Kent had a publication date for her second book, so that’s gone on the wishlist. I’ll be interested to see how you do next month’s Flowers in the Attic is quite a tough starting point!!

    • I was a bit surprised by Year of Wonders age as well – it was one of the first books I did with my book group which made me realise we’ve been getting together for more than 15 years 🙂

      Although the themes of Flowers in the Attic are tricky (!), I read it at a time in my life when I was always buried in a book, so I think that will provide my starting point. Had also been thinking that it was such a book of its time, a cult book, much like Twilight. In fact, I read Twilight because my babysitter (younger than me) was engrossed in it and, once she started describing it, I realised it was the Flowers of this generation.

  6. Michael Polan’s The Botany of Desire has a fascinating chapter devoted to the whole tulip mania thing as well. You might find it interesting after these books.

  7. I can highly recommend Alexandre Dumas’ ‘The Black Tulip’, if you’re interested in continuing your tulip reading. There’s murder, betrayal, imprisonment (because that’s Dumas’ thing) and some love as well. I think I’ll give Six Degrees a go next month (even if I haven’t read ‘Flowers in the Attic’).

    • I haven’t read any Dumas, so obvs will have to start with Black Tulip!

      Haven’t read Flowers in the Attic? It’s a cult classic and very, very bad… Unbelievably bad. Don’t let that stop you though!

    • I’ve just finished Last Painting – while it won’t be in my favourites for the year (Rush Oh! still dominates), I thought it was extremely clever and one of the better examples of tying three different times and places together.

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  10. So many great books in these six degrees! I loved Sarah de Vos and have decided that, for whatever reason, I’m a pushover for art-in-fiction. It almost always works for me. I’ll be interested to see what you think of The Muse. The Miniaturist was my favorite debut of 2013.

    A new Hannah Kent?! What?! This went right by me, but now I need to get after it.

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