Six Degrees of Separation: from Eats, Shoots & Leaves to Valentines from Bath

The first Saturday of the month is time to play Six Degrees of Separation. This meme is hosted by Kate of Books Are My Favourite and Best. The aim is to link six books to each other from the starting point.

This month the starting point is Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, a book that topped the critics ‘best of 2019’ lists. It is about punctuation told in such away as to make it a fun read. I haven't read this book, but am adding it to my TBR pile.

I haven't participated in this meme for a while as I was unable to launch from the starting book. This time that first jump came to mind instantly and the rest followed on easily from there.

Punctuation goes hand in hand with writing, which uses some sort of writing implement such as a pen. My first link, therefore, takes me to a book that involves a penmaker, The Penmaker's Wife.

I still have my fountain pen given to me when I started grammar school and remember the mess made with dip pens - split nibs, ink blots and stained fingers. Documents are usually signed in ink, but if you want to sign away your soul, the contract can be signed in blood. Blood and Ink by D.K. Marley features the playwright Christopher Marlowe. While he may not have signed away his soul, he wrote many letters and is said to have dabbled in espionage.

My next link takes me to Letters for a Spy by Alice Chetwynd Ley set during the Napoleonic Wars and involves a secret letter. However, letters are too easily read if they fall into the wrong hands. Much better to encode them using a cipher.
In The Other Cipher, a novel by Heidi Eljarbo set during World War II, the Norwegian Resistance is hunting for a painting to prevent the Nazis adding it to their art collection. The clue to its whereabouts is written in code in a ledger.

A ledger, among other things, can be used to record daily financial transactions for a business. Daily activities can also be recorded in a diary. Diary keeping was a very popular pastime and those kept by historical figures share much about the times in which they lived. The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller delves into the life of one of America's Founding Fathers.

Diaries can also tell of secret loves and what better way to express that love than by sending a lovely Valentine - anonymously, of course. Valentines from Bath is a collection of romantic short stories from a number of authors known collectively as the Bluestocking Belles. Each story concludes at the Valentine's Day Ball.

That's my Six Degrees of Separation for this month. I hope you enjoyed it.

Next month the starting point is Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher.


  1. Some great sounding books in this chain... except... I don't think I'd read the last one (not into romance, I'm afraid)!

  2. I used to love writing with a fountain pen, despite the mess! I haven't read any of the books in your chain, although I've read another of Alice Chetwynd Ley's books, The Jewelled Snuff Box, which I enjoyed.

    1. I might just buy a bottle of ink and get my fountain pen out for old times' sake :-)

      The Jewelled Snuff Box is one I've been wanting to read for ages but never got around to.

  3. Ciphers and secret letters, definitely love those! Blood and Ink reminded me of another recent book where Christopher Marlowe was the villain plotting against Shakespeare, I can't quite remember which one though. Now I need to go check Marlowe's Wikipedia page. The plot thickens indeed! :)

    1. The only other book that comes to mind with Christopher Marlowe in it is Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welch.

  4. What an interesting link - I'll be checking out these books

  5. Marlowe is an intriguing fellow. I might check out Blood & Ink one of these days. Nice List.