Six Degrees of Separation: From The Naked Chef to The Bloody Chamber

Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate at Books are My Favourite and Best. The idea, inspired by Frigyes Karinthy’s 1929 short story, Chains, is that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by just six links. Here, we bring the idea into the world of books.

This month we start with Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef. I’ve not read this but know it’s a classic – a cookbook that ‘reads like a biography’ of a person who’s life is shaped and driven by good food. The focus on food draws my mind to a particular scene in a recent read of mine – The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak – where teenage Ada’s Aunt Meryem helps her reconnect to her Cypriot roots through food.

โ€˜Food is the heart of a culture. You donโ€™t know your ancestorsโ€™ cuisine, you donโ€™t know who you are.โ€™

A central theme in The Island of Missing Trees is grief, set as it is after the death of Ada’s mother. I link this to Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter – an imaginative novella exploring the aftermath of another mother’s death on the young family she leaves behind.

Both the slightly whimsical elements of this novella (a crow coming to protect and counsel the grieving family) and the imagery of feathers make me think of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton – a whimsical, magical novel about a girl who is born with wings.

I’m linking this to The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, another book that marries fairy-tale elements and child-like wonder with some much darker themes.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is deceptive, in that its child characters and perspectives could imply a lighter read, but in fact I found it as close to the horror genre as I tend to pick up! With that in mind, I link it to iconic scary story, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

The way horror elements in Frankenstein are given such a human flavour and the way the world is so immersive and finely sculpted reminds me very much of the beautifully dark fairy stories in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.

So we started with food, passed by grief, whimsy and horror and finally arrived at subversive and sensual fairy-tale. Somehow seems appropriate for a cosy, cold, dark and somehow magical month. Where did your November chains take you?

11 responses to “Six Degrees of Separation: From The Naked Chef to The Bloody Chamber”

  1. Great chain Emma. Frankenstein was such a surprise when I read it in terms of it having so much more to it than just a horror story. Ava Lavender is a book I’ve been meaning to read for long. Hope I can soon

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    1. Frankenstein absolutely was a surprise to me for the same reason. I expected it would be amazing but what I didn’t expect was how much I would like the ‘monster’. Ava Lavender was quite a quick and whimsical read – when you are in that kind of mood I’d highly recommend!

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  2. The Shafak and the Porter have been on my mental ‘to read’ list for ages. maybe this interesting chain will encourage me to take the next step!

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    1. I hope you enjoy them if you pick them up! The Porter is very short too, but somehow manages to pack so feeling and so many ideas in a small number of pages.

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  3. Short is good when the TBR is so long!

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    1. Very much empathise!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the Porter and the Carter. Frankenstein is incredible. I recommend Brian Aldiss’s Frankenstein Unbound, too.

    I’ve put a reservation on the Shafak at my local library – there are only 9 people in the queue ahead of me!

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    1. Ohh thanks for the recommendation – I love a bit of time travel so that sounds very intriguing! I hope the Shafak queue goes fast for you!

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  5. Not read any of these, but I do like some of those book covers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This edition of The Bloody Chamber is very beautiful!

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  6. Nice work. Iโ€™ve only read Ocean at the End of the Lane and Frankenstein, but very interesting the way youโ€™ve done this chain.

    Liked by 1 person

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