Saturday, June 5, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation - from The Bass Rock to The Rose Garden

It’s June and time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place, add six books, and see where we end up. This month’s starting point is The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld, winner of Australia’s Stella Prize. This is a historical novel set in 18th-century Scotland about darkness, violence, and madness. Which is right up my alley – sometimes, so I have it on reserve at the library.  Due to a New York Times book review, it is getting more attention than I expected, and what a cool cover!
In the meantime, my first degree also relates to a rock: The Apple Stone by Nicholas Stuart Gray, which I just reviewed earlier this week. This is a fantasy in the tradition of E. Nesbit about an ordinary family and a talisman that brings things to life, usually with disastrous results.
My second degree also involves a rock, Split Rock by Holly Hodder Eger, a novel set on Martha’s Vineyard about a midlife crisis. Hodder’s love of the Vineyard is apparent in her writing and made me want to visit. I don’t live far away but lodging is expensive and one really needs a car to get around, yet to bring a car on the ferry is $81 each way during the peak season. When my boss got married there several years ago, I tried taking the ferry on foot, then a bus and it worked out getting to the church (albeit three separate buses) but I had to take a $70 taxi ride back to the ferry at 10 pm after the reception and was worried the whole time I’d get stranded! It was a lovely wedding, however.
The ferry system to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket is in the news because it is one of the latest victims of ransomware! People can still travel (fortunately, as Massachusetts tourism has greatly suffered over the fifteen months) but they cannot book travel in advance, so the ferry might be full when they arrive.  There is no bridge!

Show Me a Sign, my third degree, was one of my favorite books of 2020. It is a historical novel set on Martha’s Vineyard about a deaf community and the brave teen threatened by a scientist who doesn’t see her intelligence, only her disability.
My fourth degree is The Fairy Tale Girl by Susan Branch, a memoir by the thoughtful and effervescent artist/lifestyle guru/Anglophile. She found her way accidentally to Martha’s Vineyard and never left. Several years ago I went to a Beatrix Potter event she was doing in Harwich, Massachusetts and there were so many dozens of people in line to meet her afterward that we couldn’t linger, which was a pity. Her website is fun if you have time to visit.
I like fairy tale retellings and one of the more unusual ones I have read is my fifth degree, Briar Rose by the award-winning Jane Yolen. In this young adult novel, Yolen tells the well-known tale of Sleeping Beauty against the backdrop of the Holocaust and World War II. I remember it being very intense but too short!
My sixth degree also has a rose theme. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley is a romantic and enthralling story about a woman who has lost her sister and returns to Cornwall, where they were happy as children. Planning merely to scatter her sister’s ashes, she finds herself time-shifted to the 18th century with even greater complications there than in the present.
So I traveled from Scotland to England (possibly Devon?) to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts to WWII Germany and wound up in Cornwall. Next month’s chain (July 3) will begin with
 a former nonfiction bestseller, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.
With my boss at her
Martha's Vineyard wedding


Cathy said...

Interesting selection of books. Briar Rose sounds especially tempting.

Helen said...

I love Susanna Kearsley's books and The Rose Garden is one of my favourites. I don't think I've read any retellings of Sleeping Beauty, but Briar Rose does sound unusual.

Katrina said...

I'm also in a queue at the library for the Evie Wyld book. I've enjoyed a couple of Kearsley's books so I should give The Rose Garden a go.

Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

Well, if you like a good fairy tale retelling you MUST read "The Charmed Wife" by Olga Grushin. Not a typical retelling of Cinderella, but still... really interesting and beautifully written!

itskoo said...

I haven't read Briar Rose but I was a fan of Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Chronicles when I was younger. Briar Rose sounds like an interesting read!

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

I remember you reviewing Apple Stone before and it seemed delightful. Also delightful to see Susanna Kearsley's name here, whose books I adore. There's a wistful quality to her time travel stories which I never can get enough of!

TracyK said...

Those are all interesting books and connections. And all by authors I have not read. The most interesting to me is Split Rock by Holly Hodder Eger. And I like your story about getting to your boss's wedding on Martha’s Vineyard, although I would not have gone to all that trouble.