Six Degrees of Separation – from Shopgirl to The Birdman’s Wife

It’s time for #6Degrees and truly, it’s easy to play (no rules, just bookish fun) – join in!

This month we begin with Steve Martin’s Shopgirl (thanks to AnnaBookBel for the suggestion). I haven’t read Shopgirl and was wondering where to begin when Sue suggested starting with The Women in Black by Madeleine St John – both books are about women who work in department stores – perfect!

The Women in Black has been made into a musical – it’s glorious. Another Australian book that was adapted for the stage was Kate Grenville’s The Secret River. I’ve never read any Grenville (I know, what’s wrong with me?) but this particular story was also made into a television series (which was spectacular).

Rivers and television series form the next link to Nancy Cato’s All the Rivers Run. Oh dear god I loved this book when I was in my late teens, and my mum and I watched the tv series together, bawling through the entire thing.

I shared All the Rivers Run with my mum, but it was Marcus Clarke’s For the Term of his Natural Life that I shared with my dad. My dad told me the story when I was quite young. In retrospect, a grisly convict story is an odd choice for bedtime reading for a nine-year-old but I figure my dad must have been reading it himself and relayed what he’d read to me each night.

The Van Diemonian convict link brings me to Richard Flannagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish. It tells the story of convict and artist, William Buelow Gould, who first sketched the native fishes of Tasmania and in doing so created one of the earliest records of Australian freshwater species.

This links to Melissa Ashley’s The Birdman’s Wife, which tells the story of Elizabeth Gould (not her husband John, the famous ornithologist), who painted pictures of Australian native birds, again creating one of the earliest records of species. As far as I know, William Gould the fish artist, and Elizabeth Gould the bird artist, are not related.

From department stores and novel/stage/television adaptations to convict artists – that’s #6Degreess for another month. Where will other chains lead?

Next month (July 1, 2017), the chain will begin with an Australian classic that is celebrating its 50th anniversary – Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (thanks to Brona for the suggestion).



48 responses

  1. It is ‘bookish fun’. Your six degrees included some of my favourite reads. I began with Women in Black, followed by Come In Spinner by Florence James Dymphna Cusack, Carol by Patricia Highsmith, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, and finally The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.

  2. Haha, glad I got you started Kate! I love your links. They are seamless and all Aussie! But, where’s your head, bookgirl! Hop to it now and read some Grenville! If you want some recommendations, you know who to come to.

    Picnic as a good starter for the next one. I’ll put my thinking cap on now, but meanwhile, here’s my post: (I forgot to update the URL when I got to my end book! Oh well, it’s sick at xxx now!)

    • The all-Aussie wasn’t intentional but once I’d finished it was rather neat. Thanks again for my jump-start 😀

      It’s SHAMEFUL that I haven’t read Grenville… I don’t even know why it’s happened. The tv series of The Secret River was sensational.

  3. Oh, goodness, I feel very ignorant. I don’t seem to have read or even know about any of the ones you mention here. My knowledge of Australian literature really is appalling. Mea culpa.

    • Admittedly I don’t always go all-Australian (and who would have predicted that after the starting point was an American male comic?!). Thanks for joining in.

  4. Your all Aussie list makes up for my complete lack of Australian content this time around.
    And I’m thrilled your using my choice next month – I’m reading 2 Lindsay bio’s at the moment (technically one bio and one memoir), so I will be fully prepared for The Picnic links 🙂

  5. Great chain! I’ve had The Secret River on my TBR for so long its pages would have gone yellow – thankfully it’s a Kindle copy though! Picnic at Hanging Rock is also on there – wonder if I could squeeze it in before next month…hmm…

    • Well I can’t comment of Secret River (!) but it seems from the comments, we’ve both missed out on an amazing book 🙂

      I’ve read Picnic at Hanging Rock many times – it’s a very quick read. The last time I re-read it, the prose struck me as a little overdone but for a short, dramatic story, it’s fantastic.

  6. I haven’t read any of these. I do like the cover of The Woman in Black. And you are right; your dad’s choice of bedtime story was pretty unique. It would have been interesting to know how much a 9 year old absorbed.

    • The fact that I still remember him telling me the story speaks volumes! (I do recall understanding the injustice of the convict system – steal some bread, get banished for life – I was aware that the punishment didn’t fit the crime).

  7. I haven’t read any Grenville either, but having heard her speak recently, I resolved to do it quick smart. She must be something of a national treasure, surely.

  8. I like your connections to the books you’ve given your parents. It’s also kind of funny that you went for all Australian books since next month’s is an Australian classic.

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