6 Degrees of Separation: The Paying Guests

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 Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, a tale of post-war forbidden love, an unintentional crime and a dastardly cover-up. It was a super page-turner and I enjoyed all the period details.

The Paying Guests had a brilliant and uncomfortable scene in which the three main characters got horribly, messily drunk. I don’t think it is very easy to write convincingly about being drunk but Waters nailed it. It reminded me of a scene in The Great Gatsby in which F Scott Fitzgerald also conveyed very accurately the elliptical, confusing nature of a party in which everyone is very sozzled.

The Great Gatsby is one of the books I studied for high school English, along with John Fowles’ creepy stalker novel The Collector.

The Collector is told partly through the diary of the stalker’s victim Miranda, a beautiful young art student. When I think of diaries, the very first book that springs to mind is Anne Frank’s heartbreaking Diary of a Young Girl.

Anne Frank’s diary is the true story of what it was like to be Jewish during Hitler’s reign of terror. In HHhH, Laurent Binet tells the story of an attempted assassination attempt on Hitler.

Though Binet’s story is based on facts, he takes considerable license with those facts and the book might be considered an alternative history. A fantastic alternative history, and one I have just re-read is Peter Docker’s The Waterboys.

The Waterboys is a reimagining of white settlement of Western Australia in which the British marines take on the ways of the indigenous people of Perth. Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance also tells the story of the white settlement of Western Australia – but based on what really happened, his is a much sadder story – of the destruction of indigenous culture.

6 degreesof separation

From drunkenness, to books I studied at school through diaries, to alternative history and indigenous stories, that’s it for this edition of 6 degrees of separation. I wonder where Emma Chapman ended up in her chain? Where will the chain take you? If you have a blog, I’d love you to play along; if not you can post your chain in the comments.

Next month: On Saturday September 5th the chain will begin with Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive


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16 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: The Paying Guests

  1. I have just found your site and I love it. This is a great idea – thank you!

    I loved The Paying Guests. It kept me up way too late one night as I couldn’t put it down to go to bed. Another book that kept me up too late was Affinity by the same author. Affinity involves an escape from prison. Another book in which a character escapes from prison is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Much of the novel Shantaram is set in India. Another novel that is set partly in India is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Namesake explores issues of identity, as does Toni Jordan in her novel Addition. A character in Addition has OCD, and another book with a character living with OCD is Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. Her Fearful Symmetry is about twins and another book with twins in the story is Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson.

    1. Thanks Mia! Welcome. The Paying Guests got really gripping about halfway in, didn’t it? I’ll have to try Affinity. The only other book I’ve read by Sarah Waters is Fingersmith and I loved that too – many many twists. I saw Gregory David Roberts speak about Shantaram at Melbourne Writers Festival when it first came out – he was quite a character! I actually have a prison break in my current work-in-progress. And coincidentally, I’ve also written a book about twins! Thanks for playing – I hope you’ll join us again next month.

      1. Hi Annabel,
        Yes, I read the whole second half of the book in one evening/night/early morning. Usually I am quite a slow reader! I have loved ALL of Sarah Waters books. The Night Watch is also very special. She is one of my favourite authors. I’d love to play again next month – see you then 🙂

  2. I love this. It always brings to my attention books I hadn’t heard of! Thank you!!

      1. The paying guests caught my attention. Yet another book to add to my ever-growing TBR pile!!

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