SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION: from The Outsiders to The Desert Nurse

Once again it is the first Saturday of the month and time to play Six Degrees of Separation. This meme is hosted by Kate of Books Are My Favourite and Best.

A book is chosen as the starting point and the idea is to link six books to one another to form a chain. This month's book is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Once again, this is a book I haven't read, but its description as a coming of age novel made it so much easier to find my first link, unlike in previous months where I arrived at my first link in a very roundabout way.

My first link takes me to another coming of age novel, an American classic, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. This book was prescribed reading when I was in high school. I'm not sure if I even liked it at the time, but it must have left an impression as I can remember the story very clearly. Set in a boys' school during World War II, the novel explores the adolescent friendship between two boys, one an introvert and one an extrovert, and the consequences of a split second act of envy.

My next book in the chain was also prescribed reading in high school and involved boys. William Golding's novel, Lord of the Flies, originally published in 1954, is also set during World War II. A group of British boys are the only survivors of an aeroplane that crashes on an uninhabited Pacific Island. To survive and facilitate any rescue some of the older boys take charge and set up a pseudo democracy which eventually breaks down, for various reasons, and the boys descend into savagery.

Georgette Heyer's 36th novel, The Toll Gate, was also published in 1954. The story revolves around the exploits of Jack Staples, an ex-Captain who served in the Peninsular War. He finds civilian life lacking in excitement, that is until he stumbles on a mystery, solves a murder and finds romance. This novel is a little different from Heyer's other Regency romances in that most of the action takes place at a toll booth in Derbyshire rather than a grand mansion in London. The Toll Gate is one of my favourite Heyer novels.

My next link is another Captain in the Peninsular War, Captain John Lacroix, the protganist in Andrew Miller's latest release Now We Shall Be Entirely Free. Lacroix has survived the harsh winter retreat across northern Spain and the Battle of Corunna to be evacuated to England with the rest of the British Army. Near death he is nursed back to health by his housekeeper. When ordered to return to his regiment, Lacroix heads for the Hebrides instead unaware that he his being followed by two men, a sadistic British corporal and a Spanish officer, with murder on their minds. This has to be one of the best books I've read this year.

There was another time in history when the British Army retreated and was saved from annilation by a sea evacuation: Dunkirk during World War II. This is the link to Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff, a dual time novel that features a Red Cross nurse. Anna Trenowyth, following her evacuation from Dunkirk, is re-assigned to Nanreath Hall, now a military hospital but still the home of her estranged family. The story moves back and forth from 1940 and 1913 as the truth about her mother and what caused the rift with the family is revealed.

I've read so many novels featuring nurses that the difficulty here was deciding which one to name as my final book. The easiest choice was to go with one I'd read recently. Pamela Hart's The Desert Nurse is set in Egypt during World War I and tells the story of Evelyn Northey who wishes to become a doctor. Forbidden by her father to pursue this career, she defies him and enlists as an army nurse vowing to herself that no man will stand in the way of her ambitions even if it means giving up the man she loves. This is another great read from Pamela Hart.

And that brings me to the end of my chain for this month.

Next month the starting book is William Makepeace Thackeray's classic Napoleonic Wars novel, Vanity Fair. Now, this one I have read - a number of times!


  1. I liked that your chain involved a whopping THREE BOOKS from The Great American Read. I've been watching and enjoying. :)

    1. Checked out the list - there are quite a few books on there that I've read and some that I've added to my reading wish list.

  2. I love your chain this month. Now We Shall Be Entirely Free is a beautifully written novel, isn't it? I must read The Toll-Gate soon! Heyer is always fun to read.

    1. Thank you. Now We Shall Be Entirely Free was incredible. I must read another of Miller's books.