Six Degrees of Separation: From What I Loved to A Portrait of A Lady

Six Degrees of Separation is the brain child of Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best where we all start with the same book and see where our links take us!

This month the starting point is What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.


What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt is set in New York in 1975. Art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist, Bill Wechsler, in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, and the two become life-long friends. The story follows the fates of their two families over the next twenty-five years.

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, which I reviewed on my blog last week, features an art critic, James Bennett, who discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist, Raul Engales, in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work and the lives of the two men become linked forever.

For all the characters in Tuesday Nights in 1980, the events of New Year’s Day, 1980 will be pivotal to the rest of their lives.

New Year’s Day is significant  in PD James dystopian classic The Children of Men because on that day, the last remaining human born on earth is killed in a pub brawl.  It is 2021 (?!), the human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Professor Theodore Faron joins with a group of dissidents to overthrow those in power – the Omegas.

In Don DeLillo’s Point Omega, Richard Estler, a scholar who has been working for the government, retreats to the desert where he is joined by a filmmaker who wants to make a one-shot film about Estler’s life and Estler’s daughter, Jessica. Point Omega is structured like a Japanese haiku providing the illusion of self-contained meaning.

Denis Thériault’s The Peculiar Life of A Lonely Postman tells the story of Bilodo, the titular lonely postman who surreptitiously reads the correspondence between a French academic Grandpré and Ségolène a woman from Guadeloupe. The couple write to each other in haiku and when Bilodo gains access to the academic’s apartment after he dies, Bilodo masquerades as Grandpré and continues to reply to Ségolène’s letters, requiring him to write haiku of his own.

Another man who masquerades as someone he is not, but wants to be  is Tom Ripley. In Patricia Highsmith’s classic thriller The Talented Mr Ripley, Tom kills his friend Dickie Greenleaf and takes on his identity in order to live the life he feels he deserves.

Much of The Talented Mr Ripley takes place in San Remo on the Italian Riviera, a spot which also features in The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. James’ novel also features an American who travels to Europe and tries to make a new life. When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, is resolved to enjoy the freedom that her fortune has opened up and to determine her own fate, a decision that will bring about her downfall.

From art to portraits, New York to Rome, those are my six degrees for this month!

I have previously reviewed The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman and Point Omega

Next month (August 1) Six Degrees of Separation starts with How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell.




Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

24 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I was expecting Tuesday Nights to show up 🙂 I enjoyed that novel and although I didn’t rave about it, it’s one I think of often, so clearly left a lasting impression.
    Your last two links are very clever!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great scheme is Six. I suppose normal people always have a trail to follow, one book’s topic, setting, theme logically leading to another. When I grow up I’ll read that way. Now I pile books up, the guilt wearing me down until I finish the first. That guilt immediately replaced by the guilt of not having finished the second. Reading for pure delight. I can only imagine. ~Don

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great chain, Cathy. I used the discovery of a painting as my first link too, then went in a different direction. I haven’t read any of the books in your chain but all of them sound interesting!


  4. What a very clever chain!
    And riffing off your second choice, did you ever read Michael Frayn’s Headlong? It’s about an academic who thinks he’s found a lost masterpiece, it’s very funny:)


  5. I’ve read the last three in your chain and loved each of them, but especially The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman.

    I haven’t read Children of Men yet, but maybe I’ll save that for next year.

    The Don deLillo sounds complicated!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great links! I particularly enjoyed the unexpected leap from Patricia Highsmith to Henry James. 😀 Must investigate The Children of Men – I had no idea PD James had written a dystopian novel…


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 )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Book Decoder

Book Reviews By A Geek

Look Into Our Life

Our adventure through life and homeschooling in the UK

My Book Joy

Joy in reading and life


Books reviews with the occasional interview thrown in for good measure

Anne Is Reading

Books, books and more books

Lady Book Dragon

Books, reviews and more...

%d bloggers like this: