Six Degrees: From No One Is Talking About This to The White Garden

This month marks two years that I’ve been participating in the Six Degrees meme. I’m an off-and-on contributor – I skipped last month – but this month’s starting book hooked me in. We begin with No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood, critically acclaimed but divisive among regular readers. It made my Best of 2021 list. (See Kate’s opening post.)

 

#1 No one is talking about the danger/allure of social media and the real-life moments that matter so much more … or maybe everyone is by now? What else is ‘everyone’ up to? Well, according to an appealing 2021 title from my TBR, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town (a YA linked short story collection by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock). My library has a copy, so I need to catch up.

 

#2 I did a search of my Goodreads library to find other small-town stories and FOUR of the results were unread nonfiction books by Heather Lende, set in Alaska (where lots of the Hitchcock stories are set as well). Now, my rule is that I can only have ONE book by an untried author on my virtual TBR; only if I read and enjoy a book of theirs can I add further titles. So I culled the other three but kept Find the Good, about the simple lessons Lende learned from writing obituaries in her small town.

 

#3 I’ve read a few books with a lemon on the cover, but the one that was most about, you know, lemons, was The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee. I chose it as one of my location-appropriate reads – written up here – during a vacation to Tuscany in 2014, my first time in Italy. It contains (more than) all you ever wanted to know about lemons.

 

#4 A less apt read for time spent in Florence, but I distinctly remember lying in bed in our hotel room, which was basically part of a medieval villa, and reading it on my Nook when I couldn’t sleep because of the noisy nightlife out the window: Dirty Daddy by the late comedian Bob Saget. I rarely choose celebrity memoirs and this one was kinda crummy, but I’d requested it from Edelweiss because of my fond memories of the 1990s sitcom Full House.

 

#5 Full house? How about A House Full of Daughters, a family memoir by Juliet Nicolson (sister of Adam)? It covers seven generations of women, including her grandmother, Vita Sackville-West. I loved my visits to Sissinghurst Castle and Knole Park, two of Vita’s homes, and have devoured Adam Nicolson and Sarah Raven’s writings about their work at Sissinghurst. When a neighbour was giving away a copy of this book, I snatched it up. It’s packed in a box and will be awaiting me after our move (coming up in March, we hope).

 

#6 During the lockdown spring I wrote about a silly novel called The White Garden by Stephanie Barron, which imagines that Virginia Woolf did not commit suicide upon her disappearance in March 1941, but hid with Vita at Sissinghurst. An American garden designer tasked with recreating Sackville-West’s famous White Garden at a wealthy client’s upstate New York estate ends up investigating what happened. My interest in the historical figures involved was enough to keep me going through a rather frothy book.

 


From one contemporary novel that swaps farce for poignancy to another that descends into ridiculousness, my chain has travelled via Alaska, Italy and Hollywood to Kent, England. The overarching theme has been fame: on the Internet, in small towns, in show business, and (my kind of celebrity) in the literary world.

Where will your chain take you? Join us for #6Degrees of Separation, hosted on the first Saturday of each month by Kate W. of Books Are My Favourite and Best. Next month’s starting point is The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, my perfect excuse to finally review it (I finished it more than a year ago!).

Have you read any of my selections? Tempted by any you didn’t know before?

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25 responses

  1. As ever, you cover a lot of ground in your choices. Luckily for me, I can’t see anything here to add to the tottering TBR. Which is unusual, as you’re responsible for quite a few of my reading choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Attlee would be one to pick up if you were going to Italy or another citrus-growing region. My other choices are fairly niche!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Find the Good sounds like one I might enjoy.

    For books about small towns, I’ve enjoyed the work of Sarah Stonich (particularly Vactionland).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That somehow made it onto my TBR in 2018; no idea how I heard about it! It sounds great.

      Like

  3. I love books about small towns, but can resist that one despite its nice cover as I’m not reading YA these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I seem more likely to be drawn to middle-grade than YA novels these days: a bit sweeter and less hip/snarky.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some lovely vicarious travel in your chain. I’ve read the Atlee and, oddly, mentioned it to my partner last night while watching a TV programme which referenced lemons. I like the sound of the Lende. You can learn a lot from obituaries!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed Marilyn Johnson’s The Dead Beat, about journalists who write obituaries.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That White Garden book sounds horrid, to be honest. I totally HATE it when people re-write history completely. But some very interesting books on this chain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alternative history has a certain appeal, but in this case was just pretty silly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I know some people do like alternative history, but I don’t know. I mean, if it gets back to what was real, then maybe. Like “The Man in the High Castle” or “The Plot Against America” both did. But then I heard about this book “Analise” which is about Anne Frank, but where she doesn’t die in Auschwitz… well, that just pissed me off as being terribly disrespectful. No… not my thing.

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  6. Hi Rebecca
    Thanks for your mini-reviews, but we suppose non of these books we would enjoy.
    Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Often I include only books I’ve read on a Six Degrees chain, but this time I happened to include three books I have not read — we shall see if I get to any of them, and find them worthwhile!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read ant of your selected titles but some are definitely catching my eye. Everyone dies famous in a small town and The White Garden can perhaps be good… Sorry it didn’t work for you!

    Have a wonderful February!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Super chain! You’ve also made me want to move House Full of Daughters way up my TBR where it’s been since it was published.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love a good family memoir.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I never would have clocked you as a Full House fan. (Yes, this is what I’ve taken away from the entire exercise. Heheh)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh absolutely, a huge fan. Keep in mind that I was a young child for most of its run — it ended when I was 11 — so in the main years when I remember watching it and other Friday night sitcoms in the same lineup like Perfect Strangers and Family Matters I was 6-9. BIG nostalgia value.

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      1. That makes perfect sense, thank you. I still have programming lineups burned into my brain too. I’m sure there are more important things that should live in those memory slots, but, oh well. Heheh

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  10. I love the way you’ve connected each book to the previous one, Beck. (And I left the small town I grew up in for fear of ending up infamous rather than famous . . .)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice list! I do like the rule about the unread authors on your TBR… perhaps mine needs a bit of a cull too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Rebecca – late as usual, but I enjoyed your chain. I knew I had heard of that Heather Lende book somewhere, and eventually I remembered that my good friend (and librarian) Lesa Holstine had reviewed it on her blog – she loved it.

    The Land Where Lemons Grow also appeals to me – the first time I ever went to Italy a friend and I had booked a room in Sorrento. Our flight was delayed, and we had no idea what a big deal Easter is in Italy – when our bus had finally, finally crawled into the city we staggered to our accommodation only to find the managers had re-let our room. They offered a horrible one instead – fortunately I was with a school teacher who was much more assertive than I am – she said it was absolutely unacceptable, and before we knew it we were being driven in a minibus up a cliff top road.

    We arrived at a beautiful old house set in huge orchards. The room they offered us there was huge, at the top of the building, with a balcony overlooking the sea; it was absolutely spectacular – but the thing I remember most of all was going out in the morning and seeing all the lemons dangling from the trees in the grounds. I had never seen a lemon growing before. It was all so beautiful. The house was being done up by the owners, and was not yet officially open to guests. A year later I looked it up and was amazed to see the price of the rooms – we had been staying in luxury for the price of a small room in the city.

    So that title certainly resonates for me!

    Not sure if I would like A House Full of Daughters or not. I too have good memories of Knole and Sissinghurst, which we used to visit when i was a child living in south London. However, I do get quite fed up with all those Bloomsbury people, although I suppose Vita was more on the periphery than Virginia Woolf.

    I do try only to use books I have actually read in my chains, but sometimes I just can’t find anything that fits – hence this month ended in no chain at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the story of your Italian adventure! I can get fed up reading about posh families too, but there’s a lot that’s intriguing about the Nicolsons/Sackville-Wests.

      Like

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