Six Degrees of Separation: from The Turn of the Screw to The Third Policeman

It’s the first Saturday in October. That means it’s time for Six Degrees of Separation, in which Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best chooses a book and we all add six more in a chain. The concept is explained here.

I’ve read this month’s starting book, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. I enjoyed it. It is a deliciously gothic tale of mind tricks and possible hauntings that uses the device of someone reading the apparently true account to a friend. My next book is an earlier work of gothic fiction.

A Sicilian Romance is very much of its time, and I found it hilarious when I read it. The conceit is that a traveller visiting a ruined castle learns about its tragic past from an old retainer charged with tending the ruins. It’s about a ‘passionate’ old Marquis with a second wife who rules over him and his daughters from his first marriage in a full on Cinderella’s wicked stepmother way. There are unexplained goings on in the old castle that the daughters persuade their brother to investigate. If A Sicilian Romance is loosely similar in its themes to a fairytale, then my next choice is a book full of updated takes on the fairytale genre.

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of feminist short stories in which traditional fables are reimagined with the female protagonist taking the upper hand. The title story is based on Bluebeard’s Castle, as is my next book.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard: A Novel takes a minor character from Breakfast of Champions and gives him a backstory. The artist Rado Karabekian has a collection of other painters’ modern art that he shows to the public and an old potato barn that contains a secret. It’s one of my favourite Vonnegut books. I’m sticking with minor characters who get a literary outing of their own for book four in my chain.

Hugo Lamb narrates the second section of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. He’s an amoral character prone to fraud and manipulation who first appears as a teenage bad influence on his cousin Jason Taylor in Black Swan Green. I could link to any of David Mitchell’s other novels, because there are so many character links, but I’m choosing the short companion piece to The Bone Clocks.

Slade House started life as a story on Twitter, and features a number of characters who link across Mitchell’s literary universe. It’s also about a house where strange things happen, which leads me to my final book in my chain.

The Third Policeman is an hallucinatory crime caper that includes a police station hidden within the walls of a house. Narrated by an unnamed student of a local writer who inadvertently gets mixed up in the bizarre goings on, weird and wonderful things happen throughout the book, which reads like a fever dream.

My links this month have included spooky houses, narrators who relay the mysterious happenings in the spooky houses, and characters who cross between books. Where will your chain take you? Why not visit Kate’s blog to find out what books other people have chosen?

7 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from The Turn of the Screw to The Third Policeman

  1. This is a great post Jan, and it’s reminded me that while David Mitchell’s books have been on my radar (and my bookshelf …) for a while, I haven’t got round to reading anything by him. To be rectified!


    1. Thanks, Margaret!

      I think David Mitchell is great, with a wonderful imagination. I hope you get to him soon. I haven’t read his latest one yet, but have enjoyed all of his others. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green are my favourites.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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