Saturday, February 1, 2020

Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman to A Cure for Dreams

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Start at the same place as other avid readers, add six books, and see where you end up.

This month’s chain begins with Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner who often writes about celebrities for the New York Times Magazine.
I have not yet read Fleishman but the author’s name led me to my first book which is Daddy- Long-Legs by Jean Webster (1912), an old favorite.  At a fictional college based on Vassar, orphaned Judy learns how to have fun as well as to study, making choices and developing personality not previously available to her. There is plenty of taffy and fudge making (a pity that tradition has not endured) in these college stories. As Bronte Coates observes,
“A variant on the boarding school theme, these stories were set in fictionalised versions of women’s colleges and are credited as playing a part in normalising the idea of higher education for women.”
I own a really nice edition but I now see there is one with an introduction by my beloved Eva Ibbotson, and I would really like to read that.
People in the sorts of books I read are always having taffy pulls! My second book is The Golden Road by L. M. Montgomery (1913), which features Sara Stanley, one of LMM's lesser-known heroines:
The Story Girl and Peter came over, of course, and we all agreed that we would haste and get the work done in the forenoon, that we might have an afternoon of uninterrupted enjoyment. A taffy-pull after dinner and then a jolly hour of coasting ... 
In my third book, read by my book group years ago, Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (2011), a character hears Plymouth Brethren singing and compares their dragging out the words to a taffy pull.

My fourth book is Betsy’s Up-and-Down Year by Anne Pellowski (1983). This is the fifth book in a series that follows four generations of a Polish American family in Wisconsin:
“Fudge. Make fudge,” suggested Betsy. 
“No, I think I’ll try my hand at some taffy. I’ve always wondered what it was like to pull taffy, and this seems like a good time to find out. Kathy was already removing some of the cookbooks from the shelf. “There are at least two recipes I’d like to try,” she said after she had read through more than a dozen of them. “I’ll make each in a different flavor: one mint and one vanilla.” She gathered the ingredients on the table and set the children to measuring sugar, water and butter.
The Rope by Nevada Barr (2012) is my fifth book. This is a series I became familiar with when I worked at Avon, although it is not a favorite.
“It reminds me of ribbon candy. The kind we used to get at Christmas,” Anna said, sounding determinedly cheerful. 
Jenny added her own nonthreatening image, hoping it would help. “Or taffy the way they'd pull it at the county fair, the colors stretching and twisting all through it.”
My sixth book, A Cure for Dreams by Kaye Gibbons (1991), reminds us of a real risk: taffy pulls sound extremely fun but are hazardous to our teeth!
Bridget was exactly as in my mind's eye, down to the nubby teeth, though by 1938 she had lost most of her teeth to pull taffy, as had most of her family.
Next month (March 7, 2020), we’ll begin with Australian author Lucy Treloar’s Wolfe Island, a dystopian novel set in Chesapeake Bay.


Me said...

Excellent work! I nearly went with taffy in the same way you did, but lacked knowledge beyond L M Montgomery. Instead I went with Taffy as a Welsh nickname.

Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

Such a great chain, and so different from mine!