Six Degrees of Separation – From Still Life to Bellewether

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This is the first Saturday of the month which means that it is time for Six Degrees of Separation, the book challenge, hosted by Kate at Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best

The starting point for us this round is to begin with a book we have previously finished a chain with. Since I have only been participating for a few months, I have fewer choices. I decided to return to my first entry, on July 4th – Louise Penny’s Still Life. She is a favourite author, as well as being Canadian,  and this was the first book in her mystery series, starring Inspector Gamache.


  1. This led to another novel with the same title – Still Life by Val McDermid. It too is a mystery, has an investigation involving art forgery and murder.

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“In Still Life, McDermid returns to her propulsive series featuring DCI Karen Pirie, who finds herself investigating the shadowy world of forgery, where things are never what they seem.”


2. Art forgery led to In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark, a novel, based on a true story involving forged Van Gogh’s.

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“Based on a true story, this new novel follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in an art scandal—involving newly discovered van Goghs—that rocks Germany amidst the Nazis’ rise to power.”


  1. The Forger’s Spell by Edward Dolnick, also involves a forgery, but is a non-fiction book – the true story of Vermeer, Nazis and a hoax.

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“As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger’s Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man’s mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.”


  1. This focus on Vermeer, led me to Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, a novel that imagines the life of the young subject of Vermeer’s famous painting.

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“With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer’s extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries—and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier’s second novel of the same title.”


  1. This book led to The Virgin Blue, another historical novel by Tracy Chevalier, about two women who are linked through a common thread, 400 years apart.

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 “Meet Ella Turner and Isabelle du Moulin—two women born centuries apart, yet bound by a fateful family legacy…. A peculiar dream of the color blue propels (Ella) on a quest to uncover her family’s French ancestry. As the novel unfolds—alternating between Ella’s story and that of Isabelle du Moulin four hundred years earlier—a common thread emerges that unexpectedly links the two women. Part detective story, part historical fiction, The Virgin Blue is a novel of passion and intrigue that compels readers to the very last page.”


  1. The dual timeline led me to Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley, an intriguing novel – both historical fiction and detective story, again with two women who are connected through time.

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“Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.   
It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict.
When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.
(Lydia Wilde, and French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran)-
Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.”

And so, from Still Life by Louise Penny, a mystery by a Canadian author, I have wound my way through 6 books to end with Bellewether, another mystery by a Canadian author.


Next month (December 5, 2020), we’ll begin with a book that is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume.


22 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From Still Life to Bellewether

  1. Very interesting (and I’m hoping having to start with a chain we ended with will encourage you to keep on participating). I like the sound of In the Full Light of the Sun – I’ll keep a lookout for that one. As for The Virgin Blue, if that was on my chain (I don’t know it), I might have gone next to Nancy Bilyeau’s The Blue. Really good story about intrigue in the world of paint coloring for porcelain.

  2. I’m fond of a Louise Penny myself, and was fortunate to hear her speak – very engagingly – at an event organised by my local independent bookshop in Ripon, UK, last year. All your choices seem well worth looking out for – thanks.

  3. Hi Bev! Aaaah I love your post!! Very cleverly crafted. I have read and loved The girl with the pearl earing. Will have a look at The Virgin Blue. I had a look at Still Life by Val McDermid and it just made it onto my TBR list.

    Bellewether has such a lovely cover and the premise sounds good. Another one I will have a look at.

    Here’s my 6 Degrees of Separation – One, two, buckle my shoe

  4. Great chain. I have read two of those books – Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Virgin Blue – and enjoyed them both. I’m looking forward to reading Bellewether as I usually love Susanna Kearsley!

  5. Great chain; I think we have very similar taste! I am a big Penny fan – I am saving the new one for later this month. Kearsley is one of my favorite authors and I think I just wrote about how much I love The Winter Sea. I drove an hour in the rain to meet her a couple years ago at an event in Rhode Island. I am so glad I went because it was an odd thing – there was a competition to *win* an appearance by SK at your favorite bookstore. I had entered once for a bookstore near me but a woman at this event had apparently won it by entering multiple times with fake names. So the bookstore was chosen but as those people did not exist, there were only five people at the event: me, this odd woman and her parents, and someone who had wandered in. I felt so bad for the bookstore and the author, although both were very gracious.

    I like McDermid too, although have not read this one, and have the Clark book on my TBR. I almost put The Girl with the Pearl Earring in my chain but went in another direction:

  6. Isn’t it great when you can work in your favourites?!

    I really liked Louise Penny’s novels at first, but I started to be irritated by her increasing use of Very. Short. Sentences. I felt these appeared so often that they lost their impact, but now I wonder if that was just in one book (or even whether I was having a bad day!); perhaps I should try some of the more recent ones? My mother still enjoys Penny’s books very much.

    I loved your arty theme. The only fiction I’ve read about paintings is Frank Cottrell Boyce’s ‘Framed’ – an immensely readable children’s book with a brilliant plot. I’ve seen the film of ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’, but I need to read the book, which is probably so much better.

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