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A Spool of Blue Thread

by Anne Tyler

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler X
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2015, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2016, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan
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Cloggie Downunder

funny, moving, thought-provoking and, again, quite brilliant
“There was nothing remarkable about the Whitshanks. None of them was famous. None of them could claim exceptional intelligence. And in looks, they were no more than average…. But like most families, they imagined they were special. They took great pride, for instance, in their fix-it skills… all of them were convinced that they had better taste than the rest of the world…disappointments seemed to escape the family’s notice, though. That was another of their quirks: they had a talent for pretending that everything was fine”

A Spool of Blue Thread is the twentieth adult novel by award-winning American author, Anne Tyler. The Whitshank House on Bouton Rd, lovingly, carefully and painstakingly built by Junior Whitshank for Mr. Ernest Brill, was eventually home to Junior, Linnie Mae and their children, Merrick and Redcliffe. Later, Red and Abby brought up their four, Amanda, Jeannie, Denny and Stem, within its walls. It was built for a family and stood the test of time. And here is where the family gathers when Red and Abby begin to cope less well than they always did.

The issue of how to manage ageing parents is something common to most families; after their first solution fails, another is decided upon, but frictions arise between siblings when the (sort of) black sheep turns up to help. Old jealousies and frustrations surface, and in the course of events, certain secrets are revealed. Tyler has a singular talent for taking ordinary people doing ordinary things and keeping the reader enthralled and endeared. Her pace is sedate, her descriptive prose, gorgeous, her dialogue, realistic.

The narrative is split into four parts: the first tells, from multiple perspectives, of present day events in the Whitshank family, with plenty of references to the immediate (and less immediate) past; the second is from Abby’s viewpoint, and details the day she fell in love with Red; the third gives Junior’s point of view of events surrounding his early encounters with Linnie Mae and the start of their family life; the last, again from several perspectives, describes the present-day leave-taking from the Bouton Rd house.

Another novel that is characteristically Anne Tyler: funny, moving, thought-provoking and, again, quite brilliant.
Jacqueline Baird

A Spool of Blue Thread
Anne Tyler, the Narrator of American families, usually in Baltimore. Why, oh why do her Novels have to end? The genuineness of the characters made me care about them immensely, even the Big Old House! In many ways "A Spool of Blue Thread" is as much the story of a house, as a family, across three generations. Four generations—Junior and Linnie Mae; Abby, Red, and Merrick; Abby and Red’s children; and their grandchildren, are explored largely inside this Baltimore house on Bouton Road with an impressive, spacious front porch. Elegiac and engrossing, sweeping and vivid, this stirring account, which we have come to cherish from Anne, gives us characters we can relate to, love, and miss at the end. this Novel should be on the same as To Kill A Mockingbird. An American classic by an American classic!
stacerbase

Not her Best
Very disappointed with this novel. I have really enjoyed other novels by Anne Tyler. This one just spun its tale, and spun and spun. And really went no where. Halfway through the book I almost put it down, but trudged through it hoping the story would begin-and then I just wanted whatever words I was reading to end, as it never became a story. I cannot think of a single person to recommend this to, and that is saying a lot, as I have a very diverse group of friends who read very diverse things.
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