Time for 6 Degrees of Separation August! These months are flying by far too fast for my liking. In case you don't know, 6 Degrees is a meme hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best - you can check out how it all works here.
This month we are starting with The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki. I'm sorry to say I've heard of neither the book or the author, despite the fact that it won the Women's Prize for Fiction this year.
I wasn't sure where to start my chain, but in the end I went with a book that has a word in common with the title: Second Form at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton (1947). Oh, how I loved Malory Towers. I remember being completely absorbed in them, and desperately wishing I could go to school there; it always seemed like so much fun. I often think about re-reading the series, but I'm too scared that they won't be as good as I remember. So I never do.
Malory Towers was supposedly based on Benenden School in Kent, where Enid's daughter Gillian was a pupil. The school was also attended by Rosalind Hicks, daughter of Agatha Christie. It's thought that Agatha also used Benenden as inspiration for her boarding school setting in her 1959 novel, Cat Among the Pigeons. Incidentally, there are characters in this Christie novel named Bulstrode and Hedwig - both of which were names used in Harry Potter. Perhaps JK did a little reading around boarding schools before/whilst writing?
Next in the chain is Gay-neck - a now largely forgotten children's book from 1928 about a boy and his pigeon. It was written by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, widely regarded to be the first popular Indian writer in English. Gay-neck was actually a very successful novel and won the Newbery Medal. Penguin published it in 1944 as an early Puffin (PS15), but it later fell into obscurity. Mukerji sadly killed himself at the age of 46.
Another author to have committed suicide is Virginia Woolf. She drowned herself in the River Ouse at the age of 59. The only book of hers I have yet read is To the Lighthouse (1927). I picked this one up when I was a teenager, never having heard of her before. Though I don't remember anything about it, I do remember liking it, even though it was quite challenging.
To the Lighthouse was set on the Isle of Skye, as was parts of John Buchan's Mr Standfast (1919). I'm not sure whether I've read this one or not. It is one of five novels featuring Sir Richard Hannay - I've definitely read a couple of them, but I'm afraid I found them quite dull, so I might not have made it as far as this one.
Someone who was very definitely not "standing fast" was Sal Paradise in the 1957 novel On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It is essentially about Sal drifting around America and his experiences with drugs, women and jazz. I read it when I was young and felt I had to finish every book I started. I'm much wiser now and tend to give up on tosh before it sucks up too much of my time.
As it turns out, Kerouac had the same birthday as Ruth Ozeki, which brings me neatly back to the beginning of the chain. 🙂