6 Degrees of Separation: The Casual Vacancy

Greetings, bookworms and welcome back to Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly meme in which myself and fellow author Emma Chapman invite you to link six books in a chain, according to whatever connections spring to mind.  This month’s chain begins with JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Though I loved the Harry Potter series, I heard only so-so reviews of this, her first novel for adults, and I was really put off by the ugly cover, so I haven’t read it myself. According to the blurb it is set in a small-town England, which looks idyllic but behind the facade is less so.

Matt Haig’s The Radleys is a story of a seemingly ordinary English family in an ordinary house on an ordinary street – but what goes on behind closed doors at The Radleys is at once a satire on the vampire genre and a warm novel about family life.

Not actually related, but also a Radley, is Boo Radley from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Harper Lee was apparently great pals with Truman Capote and was knocking around with him while he was writing his documentary-style non-fiction work In Cold Blood.

In Cold Blood is the true story of the murder of the Clutter family and it is really rather a gruesome read. Another book which includes a brutal assault is Louise Erdrich’s brilliant coming-of-age novel The Round House.

The Round House explores teenage friendship with great perceptiveness, as does Megan Abbott, especially in her most recent novel The Fever, about a strange spate of fits and fainting spells that pass through a group of high school girlfriends.

Some of the girls in The Fever are perhaps not as loyal to each other as they might be, not unlike schoolteacher Barbara in Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal (published in the US as What Was She Thinking?), whose ‘support’ for her friend and fellow teacher Sheba takes a strange turn after Sheba’s affair with a student goes sour.

From what hides behind closed doors, to people who share surnames, from authors who are chums, to violent crimes, from adolescents to frenemies: all in a day’s work here at 6 degrees of separation. Where did Emma Chapman end up?

The Casual Vacancy

Your turn: Create a chain on your blog and share the link in the comments, or just post your chain directly in the comments. The more the merrier.

Next month: On Saturday July 4th the chain will begin with The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert


24 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: The Casual Vacancy

  1. Hi Annabel, it really is time I checked out Matt Haig’s work. The Radleys sounds fascinating (and I have been following him on social media for a while now!).

    I am sure that at least once every month, someone manages to include To Kill a Mockingbird (I know I have) in their #6 Degrees. A few days ago, I heard about a game that tries to link everyone in the Hollywood film industry to Kevin Bacon within six steps. Perhaps we could invent a literary version that links every book To Kill a Mockingbird…

    Here’s my 6 Degrees (no To Kill a Mockingbird this time): http://melindatognini.com/2015/06/06/6-degrees-of-separation-the-casual-vacancy/

    1. Matt Haig is fantastic. I think the best place to start is The Humans.

      I think you’re right about To Kill a Mockingbird – it does seem to pop up with a bit more frequency than … well, any other book I can think of.

      I have heard about 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon – but only after I started this meme.

    1. You can post any time during the month, Tracy – no rush. Doing this 6 degrees, and reading other people’s comments about The Casual Vacancy didn’t entice me to read it, I must admit.

  2. I haven’t read a single word written by Rowling. I know. The horror. Thankfully that doesn’t stop me participating in #6DEGREES

    Although not usually the kind of books I’d go for, I continually hear good things about The Round House and The Fever. So much so that I suspect I already own them… Just have to read them now.

    My chain: https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/six-degrees-of-separation-from-the-casual-vacancy-to-wonder/

  3. I have read The Casual Vacancy and didn’t much care for it from memory. My chain includes a couple of other books I felt a bit ambivalent about, but it was still fun to come up with the links.

    The Sinkings by Amanda Curtin starts with a death as dismembered remains are discovered. The casual vacancy in The Casual Vacancy is triggered by the death of a local councillor.

    The remains in The Sinkings were discovered near Albany which is in the south of Western Australia, which is also the location for The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman.

    The baby in The Light Between Oceans washes ashore in a boat, as does Pi Patel in The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

    My fourth link is The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane as both books feature a tiger (or do they?).

    Ruth Field in The Night Guest is a widow living alone as is Renee Michel in The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

    Renee deliberately conceals her true self from the world. One of the characters (trying not to spoil!) in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is also not as they appear to be.

    1. Awesome links Rhian! I love the West Australian inclusions too. From The Light Between Oceans to Life of Pi is a radical leap, I love it. I hope you’ll play again.

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