Six Degrees of Separation: From Wintering to The Summer of the Bear

This month we begin with Wintering by Katherine May. I reviewed this for the Times Literary Supplement back in early 2020 and enjoyed the blend of memoir, nature and travel writing. (See also Kate’s opening post.)

#1 May travels to Iceland, which is the location of Sarah Moss’s memoir Names for the Sea. I’ve read nine of Moss’s books and consider her one of my favourite contemporary authors. (I’m currently rereading Night Waking.)

 

#2 Nancy Campbell’s Fifty Words for Snow shares an interest in languages and naming. I noted that the Icelandic “hundslappadrifa” refers to snowflakes as large as a dog’s paw.

 

#3 In 2018­–19, Campbell was the poet laureate for the Canal & River Trust. As part of her tour of the country’s waterways, she came to Newbury and wrote a poem on commission about the community gardening project I volunteer with. (Here’s her blog post about the experience.) Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson is about a canalboat journey.

 

#4 Youngson’s novel was inspired by the setup of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. Another book loosely based on a classic is The Decameron Project, a set of 29 short stories ranging from realist to dystopian in their response to pandemic times.

 

#5 Another project updating the classics was the Hogarth Shakespeare series. One of these books (though not my favourite) was The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson, her take on The Winter’s Tale.

 

#6 Even if you’ve not read it (it happened to be on my undergraduate curriculum), you probably know that The Winter’s Tale famously includes the stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear.” I’m finishing with The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen, one of the novels I read on my trip to the Outer Hebrides because it’s set on North Uist. I’ll review it in full soon, but for now will say that it does actually have a bear in it, and is based on a true story.

 

I’m pleased with myself for going from Wintering (via various other ice, snow and winter references) to a “Summer” title. We’ve crossed the hemispheres from Kate’s Australian winter to summertime here.

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 will be the recent winner of the Women’s Prize, The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

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

21 responses

  1. Oh, very clever way to make a circle! Brava!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re not the first blogger to start with Sarah Moss – a choice which I’ve immediately bookmarked, as I have the Nancy Campbell. I remember finding The Decameron Project a bit of a mixed bag, and like you, didn’t have the Winterson top of my list in the Hogarth series. But Exit Pursued by a Bear was the phrase I met in my AL English Shakespeare studies, so get that Bella Pollen review out soon, because I may want this book on my TBR list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An obvious Iceland connection to make, I suppose. I had Moss on the brain (so to speak) as I was reading another of her books.

      I was 1/3 of the way through the Pollen before I realized it was based on a true story my husband found in the guidebook!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, wow! Well, truth is stranger than fiction and all that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I managed a very rare circular chain with which I was quite pleased but yours is smarter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We both took inspiration from the seasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very nifty linking here Rebecca – I especially liked the last one! If you hadn’t told us I would have thought “hundslappadrifa” was a German word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does look like a German compound word!

      Like

  5. I don’t know where to start! Narrowboat Summer (Three Women and a Boat) is perfect! I enjoyed it and Names for the Sea–great choices. But Oh My!! You get to review for the TLS?? I bow down to your brilliance! Blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, it got a different title for its U.S. release. I wondered if that was because the publisher thought Americans wouldn’t recognize the Jerome K. Jerome reference.

      Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to review for the TLS since 2015, but the opportunities are only occasional.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never heard of a narrowboat–but a canal boat makes sense. I loved the story.

        Like

  6. Enjoyed your chain. I haven’t read any of your picks (though Three Men in a Boat, the basis for one is a great favourite). I loved learning the word ‘hundslappadrifa’; wish I knew it when we lived in a place where it snowed though doggo wouldn’t have liked me measuring his paw against the flakes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! I should reread the Jerome, I remember it being a hoot. I, too, wish to live somewhere snowier.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was great fun. I’m due for a reread too.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I particularly like your last link – and how they all formed a circle! The only one of these books I’ve read is Three Men in a Boat, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps I’ll read Three Women and a Boat, it sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Three Women and a Boat doesn’t have a lot in common with the Jerome novel apart from the title and premise, and it’s less overtly comic.

      Like

  8. I’d not heard of Wintering. I checked out your review of it just now and I’ve immediately added it to my TBR for reading in the winter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it appeals!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. How did I not think of Sarah Moss (well, probably because I didn’t read Wintering) – one of my favourite contemporary English writers too…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed my reread of Night Waking and would like to revisit some of her others including this one.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: