Six Degrees of Separation – August 2018 – from Atonement to The Divine Comedy

I spotted this meme on the outstanding blogs of Susan at A Life in Books and Marina at Finding Time to Write. If you haven’t visited their blogs I’d recommend you do for insightful reviews, bookish observations and original poetry. The meme was created by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

From what I can gather each month starts from a different book and the aim is to move from the initial book to the sixth book with one link from the previous title. The books don’t have to be linked to each other, just the one before.

This month’s starter novel is Atonement by Ian McEwan. In the summer of 1935 13 year old Briony sees her sister strip and go into the fountain in their garden. Also watching is Robbie Turner. And by the end of the day Briony will have committed a crime she spends the rest of her life atoning for.

The film version of Atonement starred Romala Garai. She also starred in a TV adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen in which the eponymous heroine is intent on creating romantic attachments for her friends, little realising she is setting herself up in the process.

Another Emma, with completely different romantic entanglements is Emma Bovary. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert was seen as immoral on publication, shocking readers with the tale of the adulterous Emma.

Another book that deals with adultery and ways it used to be publicly condemned  is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In it Hester Prynne is forced to wear a scarlet A embroidered on her clothes, to show to all that she has committed adultery.

From one Nathaniel to another now we completely switch gears in Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg tells the true story of Nathaniel Courthope who, in 1616, went to the remote East Indies island of Run to try to persuade the islanders to give a monopoly over their nutmeg to England. However the Dutch weren’t so keen on this idea and so Courthope and his crew of thirty men were, for the next five years,  besieged by a force one hundred times their size. (This little tropical island off the coast of Indonesia was eventually swapped for a swampy island called New Amsterdam that became New York, but that’s a different story).

Another Milton, wrote about another kind of paradise in Paradise Lost. John Milton’s epic poem discusses the fall of man and sees Satan tempting Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

One of the other famous epic poems that dealt with Paradise and it’s mirror opposite Hell is The Divine Comedy by Dante. Accompanied by Virgil, Dante descends to Hell, he climbs mount Purgatory and meets his dead love and eventually ascends to Heaven.

So there we have it. A very slippery path from atoning for sins to the depths of hell. Where would your six degrees take you?



5 Comments Add yours

  1. So interesting the way that Jane Austen has popped up in the (very different) chains I’ve looked at this month.


    1. janetemson says:

      Interesting! I very nearly didn’t go with it but came unstuck further down my original chain when I picked a book I’d already used in a previous Six Degrees.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    Ooooh, a very slippery slope indeed! What an interesting path your links have taken. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg is an entirely new one to me, but the title alone deserves a prize!


    1. janetemson says:

      I read it many, many years ago, so of course the only thing I can remember is the excellent title and that I enjoyed it 🙂


  3. Kate W says:

    I’ve been amazed by all of the Austen links this month and yet they’re all very different!

    Thanks for joining in.


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