The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles is the jumping off point for this month’s Six Degrees of Separation. The book is considered post-modernistic, it has a narrator, offers multiple endings, it has been categorized by some as a feminist novel. The novel was interpreted into a film produced by Harold Pinter, starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons.
Kamouraska, by the famed Québec novelist Anne Hébert, is the story of Elisabeth who is at the death bed of her second husband. She reflects on her life, her first marriage to a brutal man, her affair with the American doctor who found himself in the small village along the St. Lawrence River in Québec where Elisabeth lived, and her escape from prosecution for the murder of her first husband.
Both books were adapted to film with a conflicted woman as the main character; both were situated in beautiful, savage scenery by water (the St. Lawrence River in Kamouraska and the Atlantic Ocean in the village of Lyme Regis in Dorset County in The French Lieutenant’s Woman). Both films received critical reviews but floundered in popularity.
In Kamouraska, Elisabeth’s nightmarish past catches up to her in her dreams as she sits by her second husband’s death bed. In The Piano Maker by Kurt Palka, the main character, Hélène Giroux, arrives in a small village in Nova Scotia, where her nightmarish past catches up to her and she is arrested and tried.
In The Piano Maker, Hélène works as the pianist for the choir in the town church and music plays a part of the novel's background. In Jennifer Ryan’s novel, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, the town church and music reflect the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II.
Music also plays an important part in the background of Rachel Joyce’s second novel, The Music Shop, where shop owner Frank finds the perfect music for each of his customer’s needs. Meanwhile, Frank is absolutely smitten by Ilse only to wonder where she disappeared to for years.
Like Frank, in Haley Tanner’s novel Vaclav & Lena, Vaclav wonders for seven years what happened to Lena.
Vaclav and Lena are Russian émigrés who find themselves in Brooklyn. This connects to our last book as protagonists Eilis Lacey from Ireland and Italian Tony make a life for themselves in Colm Tóibín’s novel, Brooklyn.
So there we are, the Muse & Views Book Club submits its Six Degrees participation for the first month of 2019, from England to Brooklyn via Québec, Nova Scotia and Brooklyn, New York.
If you would like to see what other book lovers are presenting, click on Six Degrees of Separation