6 Degrees From A Redhead to The Long Way Home
This month’s #6Degrees starts with Anne Tyler’s most recent book Redhead By The Side of The Road. I’ve not read it but the title conjured up an image of a woman hitchhiking. A quick check of the publishers’ info tells me I’m completely off the mark here; the book is actually about an ordinary man whose routine is disrupted when a boy claims to be his son and then a lady friend is evicted from her home.
I prefer my hitchhiking angle so I’m sticking with it and using the theme of a journey for my first link. We’re moving from the “sidelines” to get “on”The Road by Cormac McCarthy; a cult novel of a man and son who endure a gruelling trek through a post-apocalyptic landscape. It was much lauded when published in 2006 but it wasn’t to my taste.
i don’t know how many miles that pair covered during their walk, but they’d have to go some to match the achievement of Phyllis Pearsall who (allegedly) singly-handedly mapped the 23,000 streets of London in the mid 1930s. Mrs P’s Journey by Sarah Hartley gives an account of how Pearsall traipsed the streets of the capital from dawn to dusk over the course of a year, to produce the London A-Z, the first popular indexed street map.
The reason I say “allegedly” is because Pearsall’s claim to fame has been challenged by English Heritage and the British Museum’s head of maps. In the interests of balance however I should also say that Pearsall’s family dispute much of the content of Hartley’s book.
Let’s stick with long-distance walkers for my next link in this chain. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce has a preposterous premise: a quiet and unassuming man leaves his house to post a letter and ends up walking hundreds of miles to visit a terminally ill former colleague. As he makes his way he recollects episodes from his life and how so much of it went wrong.
This leads me to another novel of a man whose life has not turned out the way he expected. In The Lighthouse by Alison Moore a middle aged man on a solo walking holiday in the Rhineland. His marriage has recently broken down but it’s a traumatic incident from his more distant past that occupies his mind as he walks: the way his mother abandoned him as a child and how that has prevented him from achieving happiness.
Why settle for a solitary beacon of light when we can have a sky full of them? Let’s extend our journey north, to the land of the aurora borealis which is part of the setting for Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman, part one of the His Dark Materials trilogy.
It’s a young-adult fantasy novel featuring a remarkable girl called Lyra. I score double points for choosing this book for my chain since she was also abandoned by her mother when a child.
The final sections of the book follow Lyra as she travels to the Arctic on the trail of her uncle who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance called “Dust.” Right at the end of the book, a hole appears in the northern lights through which Lyra passes into a different parallel universe.
To return to the side of the road we’ll have to take The Long Way Home, the title of the sixth novel in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by the Canadian best selling author Louise Penny. Her books typically feature the delightful village of Three Pines which though it regularly becomes snow bound is a more hospitable location than the Arctic. I’ll see you all in the bistro (after you’ve been to the village second-hand bookshop of course).
And so we come to the end of a chain of journeys taking us from a roadside in the USA to England, Germany , the Arctic circle and ending up in Canada. We’ve experienced a post apocalyptic future and a new universe, It’s always great fun to see where these chains take us.
If you fancy giving this a go, hop over to the blog of our host Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest.
25 thoughts on “6 Degrees From A Redhead to The Long Way Home”
I have not read the Tyler book and would assume hitchhiking too! Fun linking!
Apparently I was completely foxed by the title, it’s not even relating to a person but to a fire hydrant. Why? No idea…
I’ve only done 6 Degrees once or twice, but always seem to leave planning a post too late. I liked your reasoning in choosing links, however, pretty neat.
What would I choose after Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road? Starting with “road” I’d go with Cold Shoulder Road (Joan Aiken), via a body part to
Goldenhand (Garth Nix), followed by another compound-word title, Greenwitch (Susan Cooper).
“Witch” is the next link leading to
Witch Week (Diana Wynne Jones) and The Witch’s Daughter (Nina Bawden) and then The Ringmaster’s Daughter (Jostein Gaarder). Wish I could think of a way to link the last title with the first, but I can’t so I won’t! 🙂
I like your assertive approach, Karen. Mrs P’s Journey seems to have sparked quite a controversy.
Yes the family clearly feel very strongly about it
Love your chain. I’ve not read the Lighthouse – thanks for the reminder of that one as I have a copy languishing on the shelves somewhere.
It’s the kind of book that took time to capture my interest but once it did, I just wanted to keep reading
Lovely links! Like you, Tyler’s title conjured a particular image and I was surprised to hear that it was in fact about a fire hydrant 😂
A fire hydrant! Oh dear I was completely off the mark then
A traveling chain – fantastic. Yes Harold Fry’s premise is preposterous, but who cares. All of Joyce’s books have some strange thing about them, and yet I love, Love, LOVE them all! I adore the premise of Mrs. P’s Journey for the same reason. I’ll have to look that one up. Thanks.
I’ve never gone on to read anything further by Joyce – there was one that sounded interesting, I think it had the word music in the title?
The Music Shop – yes! I’ve read ALL her books, and I’ve reviewed them all on my blog.
Thanks for the reminder of The Lighthouse; I absolutely adored that book!
It was one of those books that sucks you in gradually – or at least it did me
What an excellent chain! I want to read them all…
Nice theme for this chain! I loved Harold Fry (and the sequel). Along the same line, this one was great too: https://wordsandpeace.com/2016/01/20/book-review-etta-and-otto-and-russell-and-james/
I’m curious about Mrs P.! And one day, I will dive into Phillip Pullman
My quirky chain is here https://wordsandpeace.com/2021/02/06/six-degrees-of-separation-from-a-redhead-to-an-alien-head/
I didn’t care for the Pullman on first reading but when I gave it a second read i was really drawn into the inventiveness of his concept of Dust. Quite a difficult concept for young readers but there was plenty of other material to keep them interested (talking bears!)
Mrs P’s Journey sounds fascinating and the doubts around it.
It’s hard to pick out what is truth and what is fiction with her life generally, not just the map making part
Nice connections! I need to read Harold Fry, it sounds like one I’d like!
It’s quite an engaging story even if there were times I rolled my eyes in disbelief. And the end is touching.
I was a bit perturbed with the Anne Tyler title…completely misleading! It refers to a fire hydrant! 😂😂😂
I’d never have guessed that is what it referred to. I take it that the hydrant has a significance within the book???
Well….that’s left up to the reader! It’s an odd title and I’d love to hear from the author herself!
The story is under 200 pages and a quick read…you might enjoy it!