Saturday, June 3, 2023

Six Degrees of Separation - from Friendaholic to Elizabeth of the Garret Theatre

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 Friendaholic by Elizabeth Day, a nonfiction book about the evolution of friendship. I think her premise is that if you spread yourself too thin, you aren’t being a good friend to others or yourself. I find self-help books quite tedious so am unlikely to read this.
First Degree

As you likely know, without taking any Greek, -aholic is a suffix denoting a person addicted to something. My favorite type of aholic is a shopaholic. I am an unusual shopaholic in that I don’t need to actually buy things to be happy. Sometimes trying something on that doesn’t fit or makes me look bad and being able to replace it on the rack is just as satisfying and more economical than purchasing something new! I enjoyed at least the first Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (2000), although preferred some of her others, including the books she wrote under her real name Madeleine Wickham. She has written 9-10 books about compulsive shopper Becky and there was even a movie that probably went straight to cable.
Second Degree

My link is obviously confessions. In Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (2007), heroine Courtney tries to nurse her broken heart with Austen rereads and vodka. When she wakes up, expecting a mere hangover, she finds herself not in her Los Angeles home or even in her own body, but in the body of a woman in Regency England. This was a good premise that might have been better story with a more skillful writer.
Third Degree

My next link is addiction. Once when I was in sixth grade science class, the teacher left us alone for half an hour. I had finished my book and recently got in trouble for going to the school library without permission (can you believe?) so I looked around and picked up a book from my teacher’s desk, Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (1971). It was the scariest book I ever read, purporting to be the diary of a 15-year-old girl who becomes a drug addict, runs away from home and dies. I was mesmerized and was nearly finished when the teacher returned, was horrified to see me reading his book, and reclaimed it. The book was a huge bestseller although later was debunked; it was not a real diary but made its author a lot of money and likely scared many innocent pre-teens like me.  I still get creeped out when the Jefferson Airplane song plays on the radio!
Fourth Degree

Even I, who loves historical fiction, am getting a bit tired of WWII settings. However, I will always make an exception for Kate Quinn’s books and one of her strengths is that her work is so varied. My next link is to The Alice Network (2017), a dual timeline book set mostly in 1947 France with an unmarried but pregnant and not very likable American heroine. She is searching for her cousin who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war.  My review.

Fifth Degree

I’ll stick with Quinn and espionage for my next link. I recently read The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn (2022), a wonderful coming-of-age story about three siblings, growing up with indifferent parents and entertaining themselves with amateur theatricals that, in a way, is preparation for undercover work in WWII. This was one of my favorite books this year.  My review.
Sixth Degree

My final link is Theatre. I learned about Elizabeth of the Garret Theatre by Gwendoline Courtney (1948) as an adult and it might be my favorite by this author. Alison, Elizabeth, Susan and Georgie live happily with their widowed father and are appalled when remarries, whereupon they decide to make their new stepmother's life hellish. She slowly wins them over, especially by inviting an actor friend to help them with their theatricals. This book has also been published as The Stepmother and Those Verney Girls. Which can be so annoying if you think you’ve found a new book by an author you like . . .
See how I linked Friendaholic to a book that has echoes of Little Women, with stops in Regency England, San Francisco, Nazi-occupied France, and 20th-century England. Have you read any of these? Did you play #6Degrees this month? Next month (July 1, 2023), Kate says we will start with the winner of the International Booker Prize, Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov and translated by Angela Rodel.


Claire McALPINE said...

I love your 'Go Ask Alice' story, a transgressive act on a transgressive book, I think this book must have been a word of mouth sensation because I have a fim recollection of having read it too.

TracyK said...

I liked that you stuck to addictions for several of the books, but addictions to interesting things. And then ended up with books with a theater setting.

I still haven't read anything by Rose Quinn. I hope I can remember to look for something by her at the book sale. Do you have a favorite?