Six Degrees of Separation – from Our Wives Under the Sea to Double Love

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 we begin with Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield.

The underwater theme reminded me of Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, which focuses on the first scuba divers.

Taking the easy option and linking by title to Emily Henry’s rom-com, Beach Read. I very rarely read romance, but recently picked up another rom-com, Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp – it was quite fun!

Allsopp references lots of eighties rom-com movies in her book, so the next link is to Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley Freeman, a book that looks at the life lessons we can draw from eighties movies.

More ‘lessons’ from eighties pop-culture comes via Robin Hardwick’s If You Lived Here,You’d Be Perfect Right Now. Hardwick examines the world of Sweet Valley High through adult eyes (as opposed to the teen she was when she consumed the series). So my final link is obvious – book one of the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascall, Double Love.

A moment underwater and then firmly in the eighties – where will other chains go? Link up below or post your link in the comments section.

Next month (May 7, 2022), we’ll start with Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang.

28 responses

    • Yes, I was obsessed with SVH (and also Sweet Dreams romances). I picked up a SVH for a reread a few years ago and was HORRIFIED by how inappropriate a lot of it is by today’s standards. And so much about what they were wearing/ body image. I was already a bookworm by Yr 8, but I do remember waiting for the new book in the series each month, buying it the day it came out, and reading it in basically one sitting!

      • Well, the letters I received basically went as follows:

        Dear Jessica and Elizabeth,

        No one understands me at Ordinary US High School. I wish I knew your secret to beauty and popularity. Where exactly *is* Sweet Valley High? I will insist my family moves there by September. Please write back soon!

        Your Tru-friend Alwaze Constance

        Occasionally someone would promise to be a better friend to Elizabeth than Jessica (!) but mostly they preferred Jessica, the bad twin!

        No SVH in my chain, alas, but I did manage to go in a loop. Unfortunately, I now have that silly song from The Little Mermaid in my head although I hate animation and never saw the movie! I enjoyed those Sweet Dreams too, especially one author called Janet Quin-Harkin. Thank you for supporting my former employer, Bantam.

  1. Hmmm, I have a hard time imagining Kate reading Sweet Valley High and I was really too old when they came out but definitely read a few (I preferred Pam and Penny Howard in the Rosamond du Jardin books). However, in my first job in publishing, I spent a week answering fan mail for Sweet Valley High. The first day or so I wrote really nice responses and sent bookmarks. Then I began to get irritated that this smug young man Michael could not find anything better for someone with an MBA in marketing to do. I lost patience with the girls begging to find out where Sweet Valley High was so they could persuade their parents to move! “It’s not a real school,” I wrote cruelly. “You’d be better off making friends where you are! Jessica and Elizabeth are fictional characters!” After a week, I got moved to the International Department where I got to work on Anne of Green Gables’ short stories, so it all worked out. The annoying guy got many promotions and is now a publisher, still condescending, I have no doubt.

    Now that I have vented, I will start my chain!


    • What an experience! I’m very glad you vented, otherwise we wouldn’t have had this window into the world of publishing, Constance! I’m going to grade you as Harsh but Fair (and Hilarious).

    • Surprisingly Constance, I was OBSESSED with SVH 😀 My reading taste leans to the more literary now, however, I do believe that SVH played a pretty important part in my reading history – there’s something to be said/ admired in getting the formula right, and making people desperate for the next installment. I reread some a few years ago – they haven’t aged well.

      I love your brush with SVH – and honestly, I’m very jealous!

  2. I’ve never read Sweet Valley High (wrong generation) but I’ve sold shedloads! Lots of parents hated them but their kids were reading and enjoying it so they were a good thing as far as I was concerned.

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  4. Interesting chain, I didn’t know any of the books, so I can explore and find some more good reads.. I also took an easy way. My Six Degrees of Separation ended with a book by one of my favourite authors, The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop.
    And I read next month’s starter. That’s also great.

    Have a great month.

  5. Like Kimbofo, I never really got into Sweet Valley High but I loved Trixie Belden. I love how your choices took some light hearted turns this month!!

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  8. So delighted to see Sweet Valley High here! I was obSESSed with it – and SV Twins, SV University… I don’t know the Robin Hardwick book and now v intrigued to find it.

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