Saturday, May 6, 2023

Six Degrees of Separation - from Hydra to I'll Be Your Blue Sky

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 Hydra by Adriane Howell, in which “Anja is a young, ambitious antiquarian, passionate for the clean and balanced lines of mid-century furniture” before things go wrong.  This sounds intriguing but it looks like it was only published in Australia.
First Degree

There isn’t actually much furniture in Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey (2001). The motherless heroine grows up in a small country town in Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s with two invisible companions, who are not your typical imaginary friends. Lonely Eva wonders if their goal is to harm her or protect her.
Second Degree

Agatha, in The Love-Child by Edith Olivier (1927), had an imaginary friend called Clarissa when she was young and lonely. After her mother died, Clarissa becomes real to her again, first as a shadow, then as an elfin girl of about 11 who likes raspberries but is, initially, invisible to all but Agatha. Surprisingly, first the hotel staff and then her own people can see Clarissa as if she is real. One suspects this won’t end well.
Third Degree

When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson (1967) is the haunting story of another lonely girl, Anna, staying with a well-meaning couple in Norfolk where she makes friends at the beach with outgoing Marnie. But when her new friend disappears, Anna learns no one but her could see Marnie. In 2014, there was an animated movie, based on the book and produced by Studio Ghibli, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. I was disappointed; I found it too wistful and slow-paced but I like the book very much.
Fourth Degree

A better-known children’s fantasy, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986), was also made into a Japanese animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 2004 and has gained a cult following. The actual book is better, although unusual, as the heroine, milliner Sophie, spends most of the book enchanted as a grumpy old lady. Oh dear, I used this once before.
Fifth Degree

Valancy Stirling considers a small shack on a wooded island in Muskoka, Ontario her castle in The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (1926). After being told she has a year to live, she decided not to spend it with her narrow-minded family but with people she cares about, particularly the mysterious Barney Snaith. I have been to Muskoka, a lake district north of Toronto, with my friend Terry Kawaja several times. This is the only book Montgomery wrote that is set entirely outside her beloved Prince Edward Island. Supposedly, a movie is being made by Cinegryphon Entertainment but there has not been any news since 2022.
Sixth Degree

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos (2018). Meeting Edith Hobbs at a wedding gives Clare the self-knowledge and strength to break her engagement, and soon afterward she unexpectedly inherits and moves into Edith’s home, Blue Sky House in Delaware, where she is able to reassess her life. I recommend this author but suggest you begin with Love Walked In.
See how I linked a dark Australian novel to fiction set in Britain, children’s fantasy that inspired Japanese animation, and books that take place in Canada's cottage region and a Delaware guest house. Have you read any of these? Did you play #6Degrees this month? Next month (June 3, 2023), Kate has chosen Friendaholic, nonfiction by Elizabeth Day.


Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

Very nice! I don't know any of these books.

Helen said...

I used furniture for my first link too, but went in a different direction after that. It's good to see Joan G. Robinson in your chain. I read one or two of her books as a child but I don't think that was one of them.

CLM said...

Davida, you probably read Anne of Green Gables as a child. The Blue Castle used to be considered more of an adult novel by Montgomery because the heroine wants to experience "married life" before she dies.

Helen, Robinson is best known for a series called Teddy Robinson, presumably for younger children, which I have never come across.

Marianne said...

Interesting chain, I have only read something by L.M. Montgomery but I loved how you created the links.

My Six Degrees of Separation took me from Hydra to Heidi by Johanna Spyri.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

A very neat step-by-step chain. I almost expected the whole post to be about imaginary friends or interesting castles, such interesting themes! And I would love to see a movie on The Blue Castle, but I suppose it's going the same way as the news on Heyer's Grand Sophy being made into a movie...

TracyK said...

You certainly did move from dark to lighter reading in this one. Six Degrees of Separation posts are so much fun, maybe someday I will really get back to doing them.