Six Degrees of Separation – from Friendaholic to Loneliness

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 Elizabeth Day’s exploration of friendship, Friendaholic. Continue reading

Friendaholic by Elizabeth Day

I had a bit of a weird moment a couple of years ago that turned out to be quite significant because I’ve thought about it often since. I walking with my friend Sam around Burnley Gardens. We came across this plaque on a bench overlooking a quiet corner of the gardens –

Sam asked me what words would be on my plaque (which wasn’t weird – she knows me well). Without hesitation, I said “Friend, swimmer, reader.” Sam replied, “Not mother?” And no, ‘mother’ was not what immediately came to mind. Analyse that whatever way you want… actually, it has come up a few times in my own therapy and I’m no closer to understanding my response, short of saying that my friends always have been, and always will be extremely important to me. I think much of it relates to what I witnessed with my grandmother.

That’s a long intro to Elizabeth Day’s memoir-ish exploration of friendships, Friendaholic. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from Hydra to The Margot Affair

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 Hydra by Adriane Howell, which made the Stella Prize 2023 shortlist. Continue reading

The Party by Elizabeth Day

The individual elements of Elizabeth Day’s suspense novel, The Party, are promising – campus-lit, British society, and a very fancy party where an ‘incident’ occurs that threatens reputations and relationships. Unfortunately the story was a bit of a fizzer.

At the centre is Martin Gilmour, who wins a scholarship to the prestigious Burtonbury School. Usually the outsider, Martin meets the charismatic and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice and via him, gains access to society’s elite. The boys develop a close relationship although it’s one that’s lopsided – Martin has deep feelings for Ben, which are further complicated by a secret he has promised to keep.

By the time I got to Cambridge, my reinvention as Ben Fitzmaurice’s surrogate brother was so convincing to me, I’d almost forgotten I had a different past – one that involved gas fires and sausages in tins… Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s Winter)

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. By Cathy’s own admission, she doesn’t have a great track record with her own challenge… But I do! As I’ve done in previous years, I’m using this challenge to read from my to-be-read stack (with a particular focus on hard copies). The challenge is straightforward – read twenty books between June 1st and September 3rd. Continue reading