Six degrees of separation: From ‘Eats Shoots and Leaves’ to…..

It’s the first Saturday of the month, so it’s Six Degrees of Separation time. This meme, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest involves Kate choosing the starting book (in this case, Lynne Truss’ Eats Shoots and Leaves) and then linking six reviews to books that spring to mind.

I have actually read the starting book Eats Shoots and Leaves, but I read it before I started this blog. So off we go… the links will take you to my reviews.

Eats Shoots and Leaves is a tirade about the parlous lack of knowledge about punctuation amongst “people these days”. A similar book is Don Watson’s Death Sentence where he bemoans the managerial sludge which has taken over public life.

Don Watson just wanted to string ’em up for crimes against clarity, but a retribution of a far more serious kind is in David Anderson’s Histories of the Hanged . This is a history of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya between 1952 and 1960, which he describes as “a story of atrocity and excess on both sides, a dirty war from which no one emerged with much pride, and certainly no glory.”

Thomas Cromwell wasn’t hanged, but he was beheaded in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy. I just loved all three books, and I marvelled at how well Mantel brought her project to such a skillful end in The Mirror and the Light.

I read M.L.Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans years after everyone else had read it- they even had time to make the movie by the time I got round to it! It is set in the 1920s on a lighthouse off the Western Australian coast, with a sort of Jodi-Piquoltesque moral dilemma.

A different Australian coastline, a hundred years earlier, is explored in Lynette Russell’s Roving Mariners, a history which explores the whaling and sealing industries of the Southern Oceans, an ethnically diverse industry with a strong representation of ‘coloured seamen’: African and Native Americans, Native Canadians, Pacific Islanders, Maori and Aborigines. She explores in particular the relationship between whalers and sealers, and the indigenous women who lived on the islands in the Bass Strait.

Those crashing waves take me to Elsbeth Hardie’s The Passage of the Damned which starts off as a journey of the convict-shpi, the Lady Shore, to New South Wales. Suffice to say, they never got there but ended up in a country far away. You’ll have to read the book to find out where.

I seem to have taken on some rather odd themes here in my links to four non-fiction and two fiction books. Death sentences, hangings, beheadings, damnation, – or more benignly, lots of ocean waves. Perhaps it’s because it’s winter and I’m missing the beach.

9 responses to “Six degrees of separation: From ‘Eats Shoots and Leaves’ to…..

  1. Interesting chain. I also took my time going from non-fiction to fiction.

  2. Speaking of the Mau Mau rebellion, I saw the name Kenyatta somewhere today in relation to American politics and I wondered of there was a connection to Jomo.

  3. First of all, hands-down agreed on Hilary Mantel’s trilogy — I loved the level of detailing she’s done in her research, and that present tense third person voice (I hope that’s the right phrasing) that she used. But even better is the way you’ve linked up the books — Death Sentence to Passage of the Damned, very clever chain!

  4. You took that into an interesting and different direction! 🙂

  5. Yours may be the most original this month! Great take on the theme.

  6. The Passage of the Damned has piqued my interest. I’d never heard of the mutiny on the Lady Shore. Definitely checking this one out.

    • residentjudge

      It was good – I didn’t know anything about it either, and I certainly didn’t know what happened to the people on it.

  7. Histories of the Hanged sounds interesting. I read Britain’s Gulag by Caroline Elkins last year, which covers the same bit of history. Difficult reading, but essential.

  8. Nice choices! I haven’t read the third Mantel yet but her books are certainly enthralling, although I find her use of the present tense pretentious. I liked The Light Between Oceans, although I agree its dilemma was made for melodrama. I am a lawyer and enjoy your legal selections.

    Here is my chain: https://perfectretort.blogspot.com/

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