Six degrees… from madness to madness

Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman have devised a new book meme based on the ‘six degrees of separation’ theme. You begin with the book they nominate, and then link it to five others in a chain.

This month’s nominated book is Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar. It’s been a long time since I read it, and I remember it being described then as a novel about madness, which seems now a harsh, unenlightened view of depression. Thinking about Plath reminded me of the movie Sylvia, in which Plath was played by Gwyneth Paltrow…

who also played Maud in the movie version of A. S. Byatt’s brilliant novel Possession. And then I thought of another Maud in…

Dianne Touchell’s CBCA-shortlisted novel for young adults, Creepy & Maud. Touchell’s Maud suffers from a compulsive disorder called trichotillomania—the urge to pull out one’s own hair. That made me think of…

the episode in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women when Jo (heroically—nothing to do with compulsion!) has her beautiful mane of hair cut off and sold in order to send $25 to her father.

The story of Jo’s father, the idealistic Civil War chaplain, is imagined in Geraldine Brooks’s March, which made me think of…

another side of the Civil War told in Charles Frasier’s novel Cold Mountain, the story of a deserter’s journey back home to his love.

And so my chain has taken me from the so-called ‘madness’ of clinical depression to the undeniable madness of war, with a bit of love and compulsion thrown in along the way!



If you’d like to take part in Annabel and Emma’s 6Degrees meme, the rules are below. You can link to Annabel’s May post here and Emma’s here. And please remember to give me your link, too, in a comment, so I can read where your chain takes you!

#6Degrees Rules


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22 responses to “Six degrees… from madness to madness

  1. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    6Degrees Meme – if you’d like to take part!

  2. That wonderful 1971 movie “Harold and Maud’ immediately sprang to mind – what fun!

  3. Marlish Glorie

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for thinking of me. It sounds terrific, but afraid I’ll have to pass on this as still a tad busy. Take Care Marlish xx

  4. annabelsmith

    I remember too, Amanda, The Bell Jar being described as a book about ‘madness’ – I think attitudes to (and understanding of) mental illness have changed a lot since then, thankfully. I love how one of your connections was about hair! Thanks for taking part.

  5. Oh, I like the way your mind works Amanda. I haven’t read the last two books on your list but I can see the connections … isn’t everything random?

  6. Lovely links, Amanda.
    I shudder when people say ‘yoghurt’ phonetically (‘o’ as in dog)! Don’t have a clue why…

  7. Hi Amanda! Thanks for taking part. My website is (miraculously back up now, so please feel free to update your links and post a comment on my post! Thanks. Hope you are having a wonderful week! Em

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