6 Degrees of Separation: From The Passages to The Shark Net
Welcome back to Six Degrees of Separation, where we all start with the same book, link it to six other titles and see the varied places we end up.
This month’s Six Degrees of Separation begins with Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life by Gail Sheedy, a best-selling self-help title from the 1970s (and doesn’t the cover look very seventies??)—I’ve never read this, but I wonder whether the words between the dust jacket has held up over that time?
The title reminded me of a very different book, The Passengers by Eleanor Limpbrecht. The Passengers is historical fiction with a dual timeline. In the present day, Hannah and her grandmother Sarah are aboard a cruise ship travelling from the US to Australia. This is interspersed with the story of Sarah’s life, particularly her growing up in Australia, falling in love with a US serviceman and leaving Sydney aboard the USS Mariposa as a war bride.
Although The Passengers is fiction, there really were Australian women who gave up everything they knew to move across the world for love. For those interested in finding out more about the real war brides, All the Way to the USA: Australian WWII War Brides by Robyn Arrowsmith is worth reading.
Women’s involvement in war has often been sidelined in the history books in favour of the men and their battles, although that is slowly changing. I’m looking forward to reading Anthea Hodgson’s new book The War Nurses, based on the events of the fall of Singapore and the Bangka Island Massacre. It’s due out in April 2023.
Between Water and the Night Sky by Simone Lazaroo is also partly set in Singapore. While The War Nurses focuses on Australian nurses, Lazaroo focuses on the experiences of the locals, although this is only part of the story in this novel, in which the prose has a poetic quality to it.
Much of Between the Water and the Night Sky is actually set in Perth, Western Australia as is Cloudstreet, which remains my favourite book by Tim Winton. Cloudstreet touches on the time period in which serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke was prowling the streets of Perth. He committed at least 22 violent crimes, including 8 murders, and was the last person hanged in Western Australia.
Robert Drewe’s memoir The Shark Net also recounts this time period and the way the city changed in the wake of Cooke’s crimes.
I hadn’t intended to end on such a grim note, although there is an odd kind of circularity to the chain. I began with a book about using “each life crisis as an opportunity for creative change” and ended with a book about the way a city was forced to change as a result of crisis. In between I spent time moving between Singapore and Australia, the Second World War and the present day.
Where will Six Degrees lead you?
If you would like to see where it led others, then head over to booksaremyfavouriteandbest and check out the links to other chains.
Next month (1 April 2023), we’ll be starting with Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run.