Saturday, February 3, 2024

Six Degrees of Separation – from Coach to Marry in Haste

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 the last book I read in January, which is Coach by Michael Lewis (2005). It’s a novella about an influential baseball coach at the school Lewis attended in New Orleans but it’s really about the generational divide – how modern parents coddle their children and “protect” them from character building experiences and Coach Fitz’s more acerbic approach had upset current parents who wanted him fired. 

I read this for one of my book groups and enjoyed it, especially one anecdote about Peyton Manning who went to the same well-known school, Isadore Newman (which my parents once visited), and also had a run-in with the coach.
My first link also involves baseball. Honus & Me by Dan Gutman (1997) is a children’s book in which a boy finds a valuable baseball card and time travels back to see Honus Wagner's time and visit the last game of the World Series of 1909. I helped promote this book when my company published it and feel I did a lot to help this author establish a series for boys.
A different kind of card is the backdrop for Agatha Christie’s Cards on the Table (1936). A murder takes place in front of a group of bridge players, including several well-known detectives, but only Hercule Poirot can untangle the mystery. My review.
It is 1940 in London and the Ministry of Foreign Information has been created to translate foreign documents and letters, and Anne is assigned to the Translation Department’s Table Two in this novel by Marjorie Wilenski (1942), recently reprinted by Dean Street Press. My review.
In contrast to the rivalry and gossip of the women translators, Two Are Better Than One by Carol Ryrie Brink (1968) is about best friends, Cordelia and Chrystal, and is one of my top ten favorites. One of my favorite parts is when the girls, taking an exam, are asked to describe a place well known to them. As they have been writing a novel together, without hesitating one describes a castle on the Rhine and one describes a desert island, much to the confusion of their teacher who knows they have never left Idaho! This book is a hit with Betsy-Tacy fans.
After Ariel’s husband goes missing from their Portugal hotel in Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone (2022), she spends two frantic nights trying to find him, while realizing she knows very little about him. My review.
My final link is another book set in Portugal, Marry in Haste by Jane Aiken Hodge (older sister of Joan), published in 1961, about a penniless governess who agrees to a marriage of convenience out of necessity during the Napoleonic Wars. She accompanies her handsome diplomat husband on an assignment to Portugal, where misunderstandings keep them apart until the final page.
So I managed to go from New Orleans, 1909 Detroit, two in London, one in Idaho, and finally two in Portugal. Next month (March 2, 2024), Kate has chosen Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, which I enjoyed several months ago.

Did you play 6 Degrees this month? Please share your link!


Davida Chazan (The Chocolate Lady) said...

Lovely chain with a few books that I think I should put on my TBR!

Helen said...

Yours is the second chain I've seen with Cards on the Table this month! I loved Marry in Haste. I've only read a few of Jane Aiken Hodge's books so far, but that one is my favourite.

Whispering Gums said...

I haven't heard of any of these except Christie, but Coach sounds like something I'd like - a novella about generational divide would really interest me.

TracyK said...

Nice chain and two there I want to read. I haven't read Two Nights in Lisbon yet, but I read Paris Diversion back in December. And I had not heard of Table Two by Marjorie Wilenski but it sounds like my kind of book. I missed your post on it in 2022.

CLM said...

I don't think Cards on the Table was a favorite Christie of mine, Helen, but the cleverness of having a murder take place in front of famous sleuths while they play bridge is another of Christie's brilliant plots.

Sue, because Michael Lewis is best known for his books on finance or baseball analytics, I was not expecting a novella on helicopter parents (more or less) but it was a great selection for my lawyers book group, especially as several had coached their children's sports teams and seen a lot of parents in action, so even those who rarely opine spoke up. There were a lot of unnecessary or unrelated photographs that puzzled me but then I saw most were taken by the author's wife. They bulked up the book but it was published by Norton, a distinguished publishing house owned by its employees so I forgive them.

Tracy, I also liked The Expats and your recent mention of The Paris Diversion was a good reminder to me to put that on hold at the library. I was intrigued to read last week that there was a miniseries but then saw it was based on a book by Janice Lee, not Chris Pavone. I had read one book by Lee which I thought was very good and this might also be interesting/suspenseful:

Katherine P said...

What a fun six degrees! The only one I've read is Cards on the Table (not a favorite but one I enjoyed) but all the ones after it sound like they need to be on my TBR!

TracyK said...

Constance, I checked out that link (thanks very much) and Expats on Amazon Prime does sound interesting. I may give it a try. And look into that author also.

CLM said...

The one my book group liked by Janice Lee was The Piano Teacher. By a weird coincidence, shortly after I wrote that message, I got an email from Harvard saying that her husband had just joined the university's governing board; apparently they met in college (they are younger and I don't know them).

Marianne said...

I love your chain. So many books I had not heard of (except for the Agatha Christie one). I only ever read one book about Baseball. It's not really a sport played around here. But it sounds interestings.

My Six Degrees of Separation started with The Map that Changed the World.and ended with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.