Friday, 12 May 2017

6 Degrees of Separation - May

May is here and neither spring or summer seem to be with us. Still chilly and unstable weather. What better than to join Books Are My Favourite And Best and another 6 Degrees of Separation. This month starts with The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I have never heard about either the book or the author, but reading up on Wikipedia gives me a hint. Seems like an interesting book and excellent book for a discussion, either in a book club or at a dinner.

The people in the book gather at a barbecue and brings my mind to The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch. Two brothers and their wives gather for dinner to discuss something that their sons have done. It is only in the end we get to know what they have really done. The deed lies underneath the thoughts and dinner conversation of the party.  A novel with many layers.

The Netherlands bring me to the next book in the chain. Attempts to Make Something of Life. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen (which is an alias). A hilarious tale of people in an old people's home. Hilarious and serious at the same time. Very thought worthy outlook on life in general. To read the philosophical thoughts of Henrik Groen is a treat.

Looking back on your life brings me to the book I presently read, The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry. We are in Ghana in 1957 and former Irish, UN observer Jack McNulty, stays in his lodgings after his job is finished and contemplating a return to Ireland. He reflects on his life and tumultuous marriage.

That brings me to relationships and I go for The Dream of Scipio by IainPears which I have just finished. Must be one of the most wonderful books I have read. We follow three relationships over the time of history; the 5th century, 14th century and 20th century. A murder mystery is in the background which historian Julien tries to solve in the 20th century. His studies of the past interferes in unexpected ways in his own life. A marvellous story.

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there" is the wonderful opening of another marvellous book, The Go-Between by J.P. Hartley. Leo is looking back on his life and reflecting how one event in his youth effected himself and the family he was visiting. A wonderful tale.

The past seems to be the main theme of this months chain. I go for another book by Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture. Roseanne McNulty resides since fifty years or more in a mental hospital. She decides to write a biography which she hides in her room. Dr Grene, the chief psychiatrist, has to decide who of his patients should be transferred and who should be released when the hospital will be closed. These are the two narrators looking back on events. Not everything is what it seems. Another great story.

That was my chain for May. It seems that the overall theme is past events. But the past and events are not always what they seem to be.


  1. I have still to read any Sebastian Barry (hangs head in shame) and I have been tempted by the Go-Between.

    The Dinner is one of those books that get under your skin, even if you end up not liking any of the characters!

    Love how diverse the links are for this meme :-)

    1. Barry is great. Just finished his "The Temporary Gentleman" a story about a marriage. Brilliant. "The Go-Between" is one of the best books I have read. A little bit slow in the beginning, but then there is no stopping.

    2. I have heard so many good things about The Dinner but I've not read it. I have another on my shelf, Summerhouse with Swimming Pool, by the same author and I've not yet found time for it either. Soon, I hope!

    3. I wanted to read "summerhouse..." as well, but it has not come my way. The Dinner at least is a very easy read. I liked it. It takes up the notion of how perfect our own kids are. It is always the others' kids that are at fault! But much more than that.