Six Degrees of Separation – From Baird to…

Chain links…

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best. The idea is to start with the book that Kate gives us and then create a chain of six books, each suggested by the one before. This month’s starting book is…

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird. I haven’t read it but the blurb tells me…

A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.

Not one for me! Life is quite tough enough without me suddenly starting to glow in the dark, thank you very much! I’ll stick to chocolate when I need some internal happiness…

The star of my first choice might have benefited from reading Phosphorescence though…

The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie

Poor movie star Marina Gregg! Despite fame, adulation and a string of handsome husbands she has found lasting happiness elusive, as her doctor explains…

….“The trouble with her is that either she thinks that at last she’s got to that spot or place or that moment in her life where everything’s like a fairy tale come true, that nothing can go wrong, that she’ll never be unhappy again; or else she’s down in the dumps, a woman whose life is ruined, who’s never known love and happiness and who never will again.”
….He added dryly, “If she could only stop halfway between the two it’d be wonderful for her, and the world would lose a fine actress.”

She could always seek advice from the hero of my second pick…

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Scrooge is a bit of a misery too, as his dear friend, Jacob Marley, deceased, has noted. So Jacob rattles his ghostly chains and gives Scrooge a warning…

“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world—oh, woe is me!—and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”

Whatever you do, don’t go to the author of my third choice for advice on achieving happiness!

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorn

I found the message in this chilling tale of a man giving his soul to the devil pretty unfathomable. It appears that if one goes over to the dark-side one might be damned for eternity but otherwise everything will be quite jolly. But if one rejects the Devil and all his works, one is destined to be a miserable old so-and-so for the rest of one’s life and die in gloom and despondency! As the Devil himself puts it…

“Lo, there ye stand, my children,” said the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad with its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race. “Depending upon one another’s hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race.”

Well, that’s a cheery thought, eh?

My fourth author drove me into the depths of depression with his unremittingly pessimistic and lightless view of life. But I felt much happier as soon as I abandoned the book halfway through…

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Having put his poor undeserving characters through every kind of hell you can think of plus several you can’t, Mistry proceeds to assure them that even their memories will conspire to add to their misery…

But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be recreated – not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.

But even Mistry’s misery pales in comparison to my fifth choice…

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Dear me! I can only assume Steinbeck’s happiness therapist told him to write down all his miserable thoughts and then burn them. Unfortunately he forgot to do the last bit. Here he is giving advice to shy young men on finding the route to happiness…

There is great safety for a shy man with a whore. Having been paid for, and in advance, she has become a commodity, and a shy man can be gay with her and even brutal to her. Also, there is none of the horror of the possible turndown which shrivels the guts of timid men.

OK, I can’t finish it like that! Here’s a more optimistic quote that aligns far more closely to my own philosophy of finding happiness…

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Fanny is such a sensible heroine. Life has taught her not to expect too much but she never gives up on hope, and we all know that Ms Austen will give her the happy ending she deserves.

There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.

Ah, that’s more like it! Another chocolate and my internal happiness will be sorted for the day!

* * * * *

So from Baird to Austen via elusive happiness, miserly misery, the temptations of the Devil, unrelenting pessimism, misogynistic piggery, and finding comfort!

Hope you enjoyed the journey! 😀

39 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From Baird to…

  1. The idea of you suddenly going all introspective on us and reading the Phosphorescence book gave me a smile, chocolate sounds like a much better plan. Brilliant chain though, good to end on the common sense of Austen after the misery-fest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did, indeed, enjoy the journey, FictionFan! And thank you for ending it in Mansfield Park – a very clever idea. I was happy to see an Agatha Christie in there, too, of course. All of your links are so clever! One of these times, I ought to play this game, ‘though I haven’t yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you should! I don’t do it every month and I cheat sometimes by using a theme rather than links, but nobody’s ever punished me for it… yet! 😉 Ha, I was glad I had one happiness quote that was actually about being happy – good old Ms Austen! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – glad you enjoyed it! Ha, yes, that one did baffle me, but then that kind of Puritan view always does. I can’t see the point of being good if it just makes you miserable… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, the bad news is that that quote from East of Eden isn’t even close to being the most depressing one I could have chosen! It is without exception the most miserable book ever written – enjoy! 😀


  3. Well I’m glad that you ended this on a more positive note…. even if I’m not a Jane Austen fan! I like the cover on the beginning book, though I’m not a fan of memoirs from folks I’ve never heard of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never read self-help books – nothing against them but they’re just not for me. Austen provides me with everything I need to get a sense of balance and joy back into my life… 😋

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chocolate suits me better than self-help books, too. I enjoyed your chain enormously and have to say that the lifting of both chins particularly made me snicker. I felt a teensy bit anxious as your chain descended into misery, but trusted you to find happiness again and you did!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, how I’ve missed your humour! 🤩 Brilliantly done although I almost choked on my chocolate when East of Eden cropped up. I STILL haven’t opened that one and you’re not heping its caused one jot. To finish with the marvellous Miss Austen is inspired though. An author for all tastes, chocolate lovers in particular 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how you upturned a phosphorescent lightness into darker realms (ending with wonderful “little rubs and disappointments!), somehow I couldn’t keep from smiling despite the gloom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I’m glad you enjoyed it – it was supposed to be a happy post, but every quote I found on the subject seemed to be more miserable than the one before! Thank goodness for Austen! And chocolate… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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