Six Degrees of Separation: From Notes On A Scandal to Ladies in Lavender

October has begun with a Saturday, which means yesterday was Six Degrees of Separation in the literary blogosphere. The Six Degrees meme is hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite And Best and you can find the rules here.

This month, the starting book is Notes On A Scandal. I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen the film.

Zoë Heller’s Notes On A Scandal is a novel about an illicit relationship between a school teacher and one of her pupils, inspired by real events, and turned into a film starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett.

Zoë’s father is screenwriter Lukas Heller, who adapted E M Nathanson’s best seller The Dirty Dozen for the screen. Nathanson’s book was inspired by the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division’s action in the Second World War.

One of the stars of The Dirty Dozen was Donald Sutherland who also starred in the film adaptation of A Dry White Season by André Brink. Brink’s novel is set during Apartheid in South Africa and follows a white Afrikaner who is moved to oppose the Apartheid regime when a black man of his acquaintance dies in police custody, wrongly accused of black activism. I loved the book when I read it.

Cry, The Beloved Country by Brink’s countryman Alan Paton is set in the lead up to the official establishment of Apartheid and is an examination of the increasing divisions in South Africa. I read the novel many years ago but the story has stayed with me. Its focus is the alleged murder of a white supremacist by a black man and the subsequent encounter between the two men’s fathers. The 1995 film adaptation starred James Earl Jones and Richard Harris.

Jones also appeared in The Hunt For Red October, a film based on Tom Clancy’s thriller that is concerned with the Cold War, and a supposed defection by a Soviet submarine captain to the US.

The Cold War had its roots in the Second World War, the early years of which are the focus of Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone, a novel that I found deeply affecting. It was recently adapted for the screen as Alone in Berlin, with Daniel Brühl one of its stars.

Brühl also appeared in the film adaptation of Ladies in Lavender, a short story by William John Locke about a shipwrecked Polish violinist who unsettles the lives of two spinster sisters living in Cornwall, one of whom forms an attachment to this younger man. The film version also stars Judi Dench, bringing my chain cinematically full circle.

The books I’ve chosen have all been adapted for the big screen. Whether military, political or emotional, they each have conflict as an element of their plots.

My usual question: where would your chain take you? Hop over to Kate’s blog post to find out what other readers have joined together in a chain.

15 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Notes On A Scandal to Ladies in Lavender

  1. Funny how a few of us included adaptations in our chains this month. I enjoyed your chain – and have seen a few of the films even if I haven’t read the books. But I did read Cry the beloved country – a long, long time ago (like the late 1960s I’d say, when I was a teen) – and it’s stayed in my mind. I have always wanted to read Fallada.

    I saw the film Ladies in lavender. Those actors! So good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps many of us knew the film before Heller’s book, putting adaptations at the front of our minds. I was going to link to Joseph Heller, but then recalled that Zoë isn’t a relation and her dad was a screenwriter.

      I was a teenager when I read Paton’s book. It was a seminal read for me, at a time when the Anti-Apartheid Movement was advocating for the boycott of South African goods by consumers.

      Ladies in Lavender is a totem in our house because my husband doesn’t like anything he perceives to be costume drama, but he loved this film.

      Do read Every Man Dies Alone. It captures the horrors of the time very effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How lovely and interesting to see two South African books in one post! I am from South Africa and I’ve actually read A Dry White Season in Afrikaans, the original language. Cry the Beloved Country is of course a classic here in SA.

    Lovely chain!

    Have a great October!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you! I haven’t read much South African fiction – these two, plus Burger’s Daughter and the detective novel Knucklebone. The Deon Meyer novel in your chain sounds like something I would enjoy, thank you for including it!


  3. I’m beyond impressed that you’re able to connect each of these books to a movie, and some by some pretty obscure (to me) connections. What a great list.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a great cinema goer, so haven’t seen any of these on the Big Screen. Or indeed read any of them. I’m most likely to go for Cry, The Beloved Country first, as I’m so ashamed not yet to have read it. A lovely chain as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

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