Six Degrees of Separation – from I Am Charlotte Simmons to Imogen

It’s time for #6degrees. Start at the same place as other wonderful readers, add six books, and see where you end up.

This month the challenge was to begin with a book you’d previously finished a chain with. I’m rewinding to May 2019 and my starting point is I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe.

There were so many directions I could have gone with this novel – campus-lit; another winner of the Bad Sex in Fiction award; books that I read pre-blogging that I plan to reread… instead, I’m linking to another of Wolfe’s books – From Bauhaus to Our House – it’s a book about the history of architecture in America and seems quite a departure from his novels.

Naomi Wood’s novel, The Hiding Game, is set in Germany in 1922, in the Bauhaus School. I still haven’t read it (despite ticking all the boxes on a list of Things I Like in a Story), and it sits in my TBR stack alongside another by Naomi Wood – Mrs Hemingway.

There are dozens of obvious links to Mrs Hemingway of the historical-literary-figures kind, but instead I’ll focus on the theme of love triangles and a recent read that had multiple love triangles – Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky.

A swimming pool is at the centre of Dermansky’s story, as it is in Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home.

Swimming Home takes place in a villa on the French Riviera – on that basis, a link to Fitzgerald or Hemingway is obvious, but instead I’m choosing a different kind of classic – Imogen by Jilly Cooper, which is also set in a villa on the Riviera (and contains more shirtless pool boys than found in the novels of Fitzgerald and Hemingway).

From campus-lit and architecture to pools in exotic locations – where will other chains go? Link up below or post your link in the comments section.

Next month (December 5, 2020), we’ll begin with a book that is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume.

47 responses

  1. I like these links, though I’m curious to know which campus-lit you’d have chosen, it’s a category I really enjoy.
    I’m leaving my #6 for today, because I accidentally published a “review from the archive” which was meant to be for next Wednesday instead.

    • Probably the first campus-lit novel that comes to mind is Sittenfeld’s Prep, which I loved. Also Tartt’s Secret History. Others I’ve read in recent years that I’ve enjoyed – Bunny by Mona Awad, Penelope by Rebecca Harrington and The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer.

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  4. I really enjoyed Mrs Hemingway – more than I expected to, as I don’t have a high opinion of Ernest and didn’t expect to like any of the women who ended up married to him. I didn’t like all of them, but I felt sympathy towards some.

    The Hiding Game sounds like something I would enjoy as well. And the Tom Wolfe book on architecture.

    I’ve gone full political in response to yesterday’s relief of a foreign election result.

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  6. My daughter adores Jilly Cooper, and I loved her early books – Imogen, Harriet, Prudence, etc. I think they appeal more than many similar books because they have strong plots and you can really identify with the heroines.

    I struggle with her later ones (though daughter says I have tried the wrong ones.) I heard her on Desert Island Discs a while back and she is still funny and interesting. Her life hasn’t been that easy either – she couldn’t have children (they adopted) and her husband Leo had a long affair. When he later developed Parkinson’s disease she nursed him herself until he died. She’s still writing. On DID she said she now finds her early book ‘How to Stay Married’ quite embarrassing, though she still laughed when she said that – I think she’d be a fun person to meet, she’s very chatty.

    The only campus novels I’ve read are the Amanda Cross books (which I love but I know some people loathe) and The Glittering Prizes – and that one seems a very long time ago now! I’d never heard of the Charlotte Simmons book, so thanks for that! I enjoyed your chain.

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