Six Degrees of Separation – from ‘Our Wives under the Sea’ to ‘Hotel Iris’

It’s the beginning of the month, which means that it’s time for another chain of books. Six Degrees of Separation is a bookish meme created by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. Every month Kate chooses one book to start the chain and we just have to select other six, each connected in some way with the previous one.

For April the first book is Our Wives under the Sea by Julia Armfield, which I haven’t read yet, though I enjoyed her collection of short stories Salt Slow. In her debut novel, Miri is happy that her wife, Leah, has returned home from a deep-sea mission. Leah is struggling, however, as that mission has not ended well.

The title of Julia Armfield’s novel reminds me of the short story collection Diving Belles by Lucy Wood. The main character in the first tale, which is memorably atmospheric, goes under the sea on a diving belle to see her husband. The sea is, in fact, a recurring element in many of the stories featured in this collection.

The same is also the case of the novel Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier. Lady Dona St Columb becomes bored of London and retreats to Navron, her husband’s estate in Cornwall. There she falls in love with a French pirate.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb, the first book in The Liveship Traders Trilogy, also has as one of the main characters a pirate. Kennit, the captain of a pirate ship, doesn’t hide his huge ambitions, but he is just one of numerous characters, since the book is narrated from various points of view.

Different perspectives are also present throughout The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. In this novel set in Ireland, the paths of five characters (Ryan, Maureen, Jimmy, Tony and Georgie) cross after Maureen kills a man by accident. It explores issues connected with religiosity, prostitution, drug dealing and dysfunctional families.

A complicated family is involved in the plot of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Vincent, one of the main characters, lost her mother when she was 13 years old, for that reason she went to live with her aunt for a few years. She has a half-brother who spent several years in rehab. Her life changes when she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a New York financier, while working at a hotel.

Another book at least partially set in a hotel is Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa. I haven’t read it yet, but I hope to do so in the not too distant future. Seventeen-year-old Mari works at the front desk of a seaside hotel on the coast of Japan. After becoming fascinated with the voice of a man staying there, she starts visiting him at his home.

This instalment of Six Degrees of Separation provided the inspiration for a post highlighting books that I both enjoyed and want to read. Another link was forged based on challenging relationships, adventures on the sea and random meetings at hotels.


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