Saturday, October 2, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation — from The Lottery to Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution

It’s 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 a well-known short story called The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, which I read in July for a discussion with several lawyers and the judge for whom we clerked.

First Degree

In recent years, the ultimate lottery book has been The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008). Although it is violent, I thought the first in the trilogy was very well done but I did not like the second and third books in the series very much. I remember bringing my then-boyfriend to see the movie and he enjoyed it but said we were the only people in the theatre who weren’t thirteen-year-old girls. I guess it’s lucky he didn’t notice that before we bought the tickets!
Second Degree

Another book about mob rule is A Catch of Consequence by Diana Norman (2002) (I realize I used one of her books last month; she was a very memorable author). This is a great historical novel that begins in Boston near Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market, if you know the area. The prosaic heroine is an innkeeper who rescues a British gentleman from an angry group of Patriots (and not the kind that plays football).
Third Degree

Angry crowds reminded me of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859), the only one of his books I really like, in which a mob storms the Bastille.  I read this in tenth grade English.  
Fourth Degree

I’ve already used The Scarlet Pimpernel (November 2019) which is my favorite book about the French Revolution so for my fourth book I will use Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (2004), a dual timeline novel in which the present-day heroine years for a Scarlet Pimpernel hero – and who can blame her?  It was entertaining but too implausible for me to continue with the series, although I have enjoyed some of her other books.
Fifth Degree

Staying with this period of French History, my fifth book is Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (2010), a YA dual timeline story about a present-day teen who goes to Paris with her father in search of the Lost Dauphin, the son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. This book got good reviews but I recall it being somewhat depressing.
Sixth Degree

My final book is Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama (1989): “Instead of a dying Old Regime, Schama presents an ebullient country, vital & inventive, infatuated with novelty & technology.” When I was observing the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill on television and on social media, I noticed that preeminent historian Simon Schama, an expert on Revolutionaries, was tweeting away as he watched, which was quite surreal. I wish I had taken a class with him when we briefly overlapped in Cambridge but back then I was focused on the 16th century.  Now he is teaching at Columbia.
I have not read Hilary Mantel’s book about the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety, so couldn’t include that, although I was tempted!

Have you read any of these? Did you play #6Degrees this month? You should!

Next month (November 6, 2021), Kate says we’ll start with Sigrid Nunez’s What Are You Going Through, which was an NPR Best Book of 2020.


Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

awesome links! I'm going to have a look at Citizens.
I have read Mantel's trilogy, but not this one yet.
My quirky chain is here:

Lisa Hill said...

What a fascinating set of links — you've certainly added to my wishlist. I love seeing A Tale of Two Cities, we don't often see Dickens pop up in these chains.
And Schama, I love his stuff. Have you read Landscape and Memory? It's brilliant.

Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

I haven't read Hunger Games, but I thought someone would connect it to the Lottery, and so you did! Great chain!

Katrina said...

I haven't read any of those ones but I have read A Place of Greater Safety - it's really good.

TracyK said...

I really want to get back to doing Six Degrees, I hope I can do that soon.

I like your choices. I haven't read any historical fiction by Diana Norman, except for her books as Ariana Franklin.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

I missed this month's #6Degrees, but I enjoyed your chain a lot. Agree with your assessment on the Hunger Games series -- I liked the first book (and movie) way better than the rest. I also like Scarlet Pimpernel a lot, though I have been hesitant about starting Pink Carnation series. And A Place of Greater Safety has long been on my TBR, ever since I first read Wolf Hall, and there it sits because it really is a door-stopper!

JaneGS said...

I always love reading 6 Degree posts although I haven't done one myself.

Nice progression! I've read Tale of Two Cities (first time just a few years ago) and loved it. Read one of the books in the Pink Carnation series but it annoyed me and I did try any others. Absolutely loved Citizens, which I read probably a good 20 years ago before a business trip that took me to Paris. I really want to reread it.

Lottery is an excellent short story--very chilling--and I quite enjoyed both the movie and book of Hunger Games, but never bothered with the rest of the series. We went to Hunger Games on a family spring break trip to Washington D.C. because the kids (teens at the time) all really wanted to see it when it came out, so we did.