Category Archives: 6Degrees

Six degrees…from stars to storm

#6degrees Rules

The nominated book for this month’s 6Degrees meme from Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I confess I have not yet tackled this one, although I plan to soon. At 800-plus pages, it represents a significant commitment of reading time, and this is what leads me to the second book in my chain…

Poor Fellow, My Country by Xavier Herbert, winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 1975. This is an Australian classic I’ve been interested in reading ever since I edited an excellent literary biography of Herbert: A Long and Winding Road by Sean Monahan. But at 1400-plus pages—reputedly the longest work of Australian fiction ever published—it’s another one that must wait for the right time. One of Poor Fellow, My Country’s main characters is the Aboriginal boy Prindy, which brings to mind a novel I read recently…

Cicada, the debut novel by Moira McKinnon, also features a strong Indigenous main character, the domestic servant Wirritjil. To me, Wirritjil is the novel’s heart, a heroic, pragmatic woman who leads Lady Emily Lidscombe on an epic journey across the Kimberley region of Western Australia’s North West as Emily flees from her maniacal husband. Cicada opens with the birth, and immediate death, of a child, viscerally realised on the page, as does the next book in my chain…

The Burial by Courtney Collins, which is set in the mountainous bushland of rural New South Wales in the nineteenth century. The mother, Jessie—bushranger, horse thief, murderer—is on the run, and the novel is narrated by the voice of her dead baby. I have described it here as an Australian gothic, which immediately reminds me of…

Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, another Australian gothic and another Australian classic. Set at the ghostly Hanging Rock in Victoria in 1900, the novel tells the tale of a group of schoolgirls who disappear. One of the girls is Miranda, and I can never hear that name without thinking of…

Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with Prospero’s daughter of the same name. So this month’s chain has barrelled along from nineteenth-century gold-rush New Zealand to an island in the Mediterranean in the Renaissance.












If you’d like to join in, the rules for Annabel and Emma’s 6Degrees meme are above, and here are the links to Annabel’s post and Emma’s. And, of course, I’d love to read your 6Degrees chain.



Filed under 6Degrees

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


Filed under 6Degrees