Saturday, May 5, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation from The Poisonwood Bible to A Town Like Alice

The Poisonwood Bible - Kingsolver, Barbara
Out of Africa - Dinesen, Isak   Chocolat - Harris, Joanne    A Year in Provence - Mayle, Peter    Under the Tuscan Sun - Mayes, Frances Random Passage - Morgan, Bernice   A Town Like Alice - Shute, Nevil

The starter book this month is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This is a book our club read in 2001 and still holds the title for most divisive book we have read. It was an equally divided group with half loving the book and the other half just as vehemently hating it.
This is the story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. It is the tale of one family’s tragic undoing and reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.  

Considering links that would take the main characters to other countries with the resultant effects on themselves or the new country, we might follow The Poisonwood Bible with Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. 

Out of Africa is Isak Dinesen's memoir of her years in Africa, from 1914 to 1931, on a four-thousand-acre coffee plantation in the hills near Nairobi. She had come to Kenya from Denmark with her husband, and when they separated she stayed on to manage the farm by herself.  Her account of her African adventures was written after she had lost her beloved farm and returned to Denmark.

Then on to France with Chocolat by Joanne Harris. This is a timeless novel of a straitlaced village's awakening to joy and sensuality - every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. The book illuminates Peter Mayle's South of France with a touch of Laura Esquivel's magic realism. 

Speaking of Peter Mayle, we might link to his humorous book, A Year in Provence. In this book, the British Peter Mayle moves into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine.  

And in the spirit of A Year in Provence, we might link up with Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. The American Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people.  

The next linking change of country might be found in Random Passage by Bernice Morgan. Forced to flee England, the Andrews family books passage to a fresh start in a distant country, only to discover a barren, inhospitable land at the end of their crossing. As the ‘distant country’ was Canada and the barren, inhospitable land was the east coast of Newfoundland, it was a particularly interesting read for our Canadian book club. 

Changing countries again, A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.

And thus we travel through the Belgian Congo to Kenya, to the south of France, to Italy, the east coast of Canada, the Malayan jungle and the Australian outback, all with books our club has read.

If you wish to read the memes of other contributors you can go to Six Degrees of Separation 


  1. I have LOVED A Town Like Alice and read it many times. Not sure what it is that speaks tome about this book. But I loved seeing it on your list. I wasn't a fan of Out of Africa. I wanted more of the stuff from the movie, so felt disappointed in it. My Six Degrees list

  2. I used Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence too! Coincidentally, it was my third choice as well, but I arrived and left by completely different routes. My 6 Degrees List.

  3. Your hard-working book group continues to impress me :-D

    A Town Like Alice is a bit of an Aussie classic and I'd kind of forgotten about it until your mention - one that I should revisit.


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