I enjoy reading the responses to Kate’s Six Degrees of Separation challenge over on Books are my Favourite and Best, but I’ve never done one myself. That is, until now.
The starting point for October’s challenge is Laura Esquivel’s excellent Like Water for Chocolate.
My best friend lent me this book when we were at university. I loved it so much, particularly the way Tita’s emotions seep into the food she cooks and subsequently control those who eat it. I loved the way each chapter is preceded by a recipe connected to an experience in Tita’s life.
This reminds me of another book that links the emotions of a cook with the food they prepare.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake examines how hard it can be to love someone when you know the secrets they hide from the world.
Both Laura Esquivel’s book and Aimee Bender’s use magical realism to create intensely vivid worlds that exist in between reality and dreams.
Isabel Allende’s Eva Luna recalls Scheherazade in the way Eva uses story telling and magical realism to ensure her own survival. That makes me think about a book my husband bought me.
The Dove’s Necklace weaves the stories of two women and the body of an unclaimed woman, found in an alley close to the Kaaba, who could be either of them or both, with stories of the men who love the women and try to control them. Along the way, characters are revealed to not be who the reader thinks they are.
The dove is a bird usually kept in a cage, and Raja Alem’s book speaks of women kept caged by the society they are members of.
Margaret Drabble’s debut novel, A Summer Birdcage, also reflects on social conventions and the expectations women in the 60s were beginning to push against. It’s also about how the people we think we know well (sisters) sometimes aren’t that person at all.
Margaret Drabble is, of course, the younger sister of A S Byatt. The only book I’ve read of hers is also one of my most re-read books.
Possession is a time travelling tale that plays out in the pages of a secret archive of letters that reveal a love affair between two Victorian poets. It contains many of my favourite things: archives, research, Whitby, women pushing back against what is expected of them, and love of many types.
So there we are. My first attempt at a six degrees challenge. I’ve managed to choose books solely by women, as well, and a couple by women in translation. Why not head over to Kate’s blog and join in?