Six Degrees of Separation – From Nunez 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…

What are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez. I haven’t read it but the blurb tells me…

A woman describes a series of encounters she has with various people in the ordinary course of her life: an ex she runs into by chance at a public forum, an Airbnb owner unsure how to interact with her guests, a stranger who seeks help comforting his elderly mother, a friend of her youth now hospitalized with terminal cancer. In each of these people the woman finds a common need: the urge to talk about themselves and to have an audience to their experiences. The narrator orchestrates this chorus of voices for the most part as a passive listener, until one of them makes an extraordinary request, drawing her into an intense and transformative experience of her own.

Doesn’t inspire me much – sounds bleak! Clearly the protagonist’s answer to the title question is that she’s going through angst, but given a choice I’d much rather go through tunnels, which leads me to…

Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert

It’s 1943, and the British officers held in a prisoner-of-war camp in north Italy take their duty to escape seriously, so the camp is riddled with tunnels. The biggest and most hopeful of these is under Hut C, elaborately hidden under a trapdoor that takes several men to open. So when a body turns up in the tunnel the question is not only how did he die but also how did he get into the tunnel? To a degree the mystery becomes secondary to the drama of what’s happening in the prison camp as the Allies approach and it looks as though the Italians may surrender. The prisoners doubt this will lead to their release – they anticipate the Italians will hand them over to the Germans before the Allies arrive – so it’s all the more important that they finish digging their escape tunnel urgently.

Prisoners and tunnels feature in my next choice too…

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Hamish Wolfe is a prisoner, convicted of the murders of three young women. Maggie Rose is a defence barrister and author of several books regarding possible miscarriages of justice, some of which have resulted in the convicted men being released. Hamish and his little group of supporters on the outside are keen to get Maggie to take on his case. Hamish is a charming, exceedingly handsome and intelligent young man, so he has even more than the usual quota of strange women declaring their love for him despite, or perhaps because of, his convictions. But is he guilty? Sharon Bolton at her twisty best, and in this standalone she uses the caves and tunnels beneath the Somerset coast to brilliant effect.

The only way to get to the remote setting of my third choice is through a tunnel under the mountains…

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

Rookie cop Ari Thór Arason is so pleased to be offered a posting that he immediately accepts, even though it’s in the tiny town of Siglufjördur, so far north it’s closer to the Arctic than to Reykjavik. A place, so they say, where nothing ever happens. So when an elderly writer falls down a flight of stairs to his death everyone assumes it’s an accident, and when Ari Thór is reluctant to accept this, he is quickly warned off by his boss Tómas. But when a young woman is found unconscious in the snow and bleeding from a knife wound, even Tómas has to face up to the fact that crime has arrived in Siglufjördur. Jónasson slowly builds up a claustrophobic feeling to this small fishing community, approachable only by air or through a tunnel under the mountains, both of which routes become impossible as the winter snows deepen.

You can probably guess what the link to my fourth book is – tunnels!

The Time Machine by HG Wells

In Victorian England, a group of friends have gathered for dinner to find that their host is absent. He soon arrives, dishevelled and grubby, and starving. Once he’s cleaned up and eaten, he tells them why he was late. He has invented a machine that allows him to travel through all four dimensions – a time machine – and has been on a trip to the far distant future. There, he has seen the result of millennia of evolution, with mankind breaking into two distinct sub-species – the peaceful, childlike, vegetarian Eloi and the cruel and evil Morlocks. The Eloi live above ground in the sunshine, spending their days in idle playfulness, but when night falls they huddle together for safety. The Morlocks live underground and can’t bear daylight, but at night they emerge from their tunnels…

A tunnel plays its part in the plot of my fifth choice…

The Red House Mystery by AA Milne

When Antony Gillingham receives a letter from his old friend, Bill Beverley, saying that Bill is currently visiting at Red House, Antony decides to pop along since he’s in the neighbourhood. But he arrives just as a shot has been fired, to find one of the country house’s residents, Cayley, banging frantically on the locked living-room door. Two men had entered the room – the house’s owner Mark Ablett, and his brother, Robert, a ne’er-do-well just returned from Australia. Now Robert lies dead on the living-room floor, and Mark has disappeared. Lots of fun in this delightfully humorous vintage mystery… and secret tunnels! Really, every book should have secret tunnels, I think, don’t you?

….“It isn’t everybody’s colour,” said Audrey, holding the hat out at arm’s length, and regarding it thoughtfully. “Stylish, isn’t it?”
….“Oh, it’ll suit you all right, and it would have suited me at your age. A bit too dressy for me now, though wearing better than some other people, I daresay. I was never one to pretend to be what I wasn’t. If I’m fifty-five, I’m fifty-five – that’s what I say.”
….“Fifty-eight, isn’t it, auntie?”
….“I was just giving that as an example,” said Mrs. Stevens with great dignity.

My sixth and final book brings us back round to war, this time the First World War, and again our protagonists find themselves in tunnels…

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

The book has three distinct parts – before, during and after the war.  By far the best written and most emotional part of the book is the middle section, when Stephen is on active service in the trenches of WW1. Faulks’ depiction of the mud and filth of the trenches, the bloodiness and horror that the troops faced on a daily basis, the sheer exhaustion and increasing hopelessness as the war wore interminably on, is convincing and sickening in equal measure.

The sweat ran down into his eyes and stung them, making him shake his head from side to side. At this point the tunnel was about four feet across and five feet high. Jack kept sticking the spade into the earth ahead of him, hacking it out as though he hated it.

The mine tunnellers

* * * * *

So from Nunez to Faulks via tunnels!

Hope you enjoyed the journey! 😀

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

  1. Oh, that’s a really clever choice of links, FictionFan! I had a lot of fun tunneling through your choices! You’ve got some good ‘uns here, too. And now you’ve got me thinking about crime fiction with tunnels in it. Oh, this is great *rubs hands* – I can see the post coming together already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, when I searched “tunnel” on my blog I was amazed by how many books came up! Clearly tunnels deserve to be considered a sub-genre all on their own. 😉 Can’t wait to see what ones you come up with!


  2. I love the tunnel link – very creative! I have read and enjoyed several of your books this month: Daisy in Chains, The Time Machine and The Red House Mystery. It’s such a shame AA Milne didn’t write more mysteries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Helen! Haha, it’s amazing how many books involves tunnels – clearly they deserve a sub-genre of their own! 😉 Yes, I wish Milne had written more. This one kind of ended in a way that I felt left room for the main characters to return too.


    • Haha, well, I simply wasn’t in the mood for a chain about angst! 😉 Some of these are great fun – the AA Milne book is a wonderful curiosity – and some more serious, but all of them are good in their own way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad for the tunnel that lead me to the A.A. Milne book! Your review of it was before my time here, but better late than never. It’s been added to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love it! Everyone should have a FictionFan in their life! 😂 I’m quite regularly mired in angst these days but frankly, though I’d dearly wish it gone, I’m not sure I’d swap it for tunnels. Bit claustrophobic for me. Could we maybe go for a walk through some beautiful woods instead? I’m ok with the occasional vintage murder along the way. 😉 That said, I’m currently reading Gilead which I can’t see as your type of book at all but it does feature a tunnel. Dug under the road in prohibition. The tunnel collapses as a rider stands above it and the horse is up to its nose in tunnel. I am loving Gilead but it’s not big on humour so this episode stands out. I reckon it could feature as the postscript to your brilliant chain 😄

    (Oh, and I quite liked Birdsong despite the tunnels. I think I have The Red House somewhere… )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, thank you! The odd thing is I really hate going through tunnels too, so I don’t know why my brain went off in that direction! But still better than angst, I think. You do know that woods are full of discarded corpses, evil spirits and ancient curses? 😉 Funnily enough, I adored Gilead, though I can quite see why you would think it’s not my kind of thing. I was surprised myself at how much I loved it. I’ve been meaning to read the other books in the series for ages but still haven’t got around to it. I had forgotten about the tunnel episode though – great addition! Do read The Red House if you have it – perfect antidote to angst! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A nice chain! I’ve read Daisy in Chains (not my favorite of her books – I really prefer the Lacey books to the standalones) and Snowblind. Have I read Birdsong? I certainly own it but that is definitely not the same thing. There is a great John Verney series with a tunnel I would have been tempted to use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I loved the Lacey Flint books too and am sorry she seems to have stopped writing them. Her standalones sometimes work for me but there have been several I haven’t enjoyed too – I did love Daisy though! I reckon if you’d read Birdsong, you’d remember it – it’s one of those books that tends to leave a lasting legacy, even though I admit I didn’t wholeheartedly love it. Hmm… I haven’t come across John Verney… must investigate!

      Thanks for popping in and commenting! 😀


  6. I like your angst and (light at the end of the) tunnel link! I thought I was going to call Bingo here as each book you mentioned I had read. However, Birdsong is still on the TBR, and this is a definite prompt to move it up the list!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m all for tunnels in books, secret or otherwise. They provide such rich fodder for metaphors, especially for one known for bad sex, LOL. And I have to say that Death in Captivity gave me flashbacks to a horrible (in retrospect, because I loved it as a child) TV show called Hogan’s Heroes. It was a comedy. I shudder to think of it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes, not unlike the old waves crashing on the shore thing! I remember Hogan’s Heroes!! Haha, always best not to revisit these old comedies though – they rarely stand the test of time… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I thought I’d read all this month’s contributors to Six Degrees, but no, Thanks to Rodoreda (In Diamond Square) I’ve found yours. Yours is a great twist to lead us into unexpected places. TBR? Well, potentially all of them, apart from the Faulks, which I’ve already read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Haha, once I got into the first tunnel I discovered I couldn’t seem to dig my way out! 😉 I recommend all of these books, which is not always the case with my Six Degrees selections. But these were all great reads and with a lot of variety in them.

      Liked by 1 person

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