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Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler is a book that I haven’t read as yet, although I do plan to read a few of her books this year as part of Liz’s Anne Tyler Readalong. Instead, I’ve used the title to link to what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle claimed to be his second favourite Sherlock Holmes story.
The Red-Headed League sees Holmes and Watson trying to solve the mysterious case of a red-headed man who takes a well paid job copying entries out of the Encyclopedia Britannica leaving his pawn shop empty during the day. Little does he know that a gang are using his shop to dig a tunnel into a neighbouring bank…
The men who dug the tunnels for the subways in New York were known as sandhogs – often immigrants carrying out arduous and dangerous work. This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann follows one of those men and his family – over 90 years – in a moving and emotional family saga.
Another New York set family saga (featuring Brightness in the title!) is Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney. His novel follows the lives of married couple Russell and Corinne Calloway and is set against the backdrop of the New York publishing world.
Brightness Falls is the second in a trilogy, as is The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, which is the middle book in her MaddAddam series. After a natural disaster which has obliterated most human life, the novel follows Toby, who is trapped inside a luxury spa and Ren, a trapeze artist who is trapped inside a sex club, as they try to survive in this new world.
A trapeze artist is at the centre of Falling, a wonderful novella by Colin Thubron. Journalist Mark Swabey is serving a prison sentence in connection with the death of Clara the Swallow, a circus acrobat with whom he fell in love. As the grief-stricken Swabey looks back on their affair, the exact nature of his responsibility for Clara’s death is movingly revealed.
Another novella to feature a man who ends up in prison for the sake of the woman he loves is The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, The Passion intertwines the destinies of Henri, a simple French soldier, and Villanelle, the web-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman, whose husband has gambled away her heart. Villanelle is, of course, a red-head.
So there we have it. From the side of the road, to below the ground and into the air, those are my six degrees of separation for this month. Have you read any of my choices?
Next month (March 6, 2021), the chain is starting with a book that is new to me – Phosphorescence by Julia Baird.
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!